Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
May 2020

Why will it take so long to make a vaccine against COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccine development Parents PACK May 2020By now, most people are aware of the important role for vaccination in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Because this is a new virus, we do not have a vaccine to protect against it. And, while many scientists and companies around the globe have started to work on vaccine development, estimates suggest that the shortest timeframe for having a vaccine is next year. This has left many wondering, “Why will it take so long?” 

To get a better sense of why it will take time — and why an estimate of one year is optimistic — it is useful to start with a discussion about how vaccines are made and how long it takes under normal circumstances, before looking at what will change because we are in the midst of a public health emergency and what that means for individuals and families. 

Find more information in these sections of the online article:

  • Making vaccines under normal circumstances: The process and the timeline
  • Making vaccines during a public health emergency
  • What does this mean for me and my family?
  • Resources for more information

News & Notes

New book by VEC director, Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far

Ever wonder if or when to treat a fever? Whether vitamin D supplements are necessary or vitamin C defends against the common cold? What about the need to remove those silver mercury fillings? A new book by Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, answers these questions and many more. Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far describes a variety of situations in which scientific studies and common clinical practice differ. 

The book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Hilleman essay contest

The 2020 Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest is now open! This essay contest offers an exciting opportunity for students in grades 6 to 12 to learn about one of the most prolific scientists in modern history. After learning about Dr. Hilleman, students can write a 500- to 600-word essay that answers the question, “How was Dr. Hilleman’s integrity important to his success, and how is integrity important to you?” Three winners will receive a $1,000 prize and a trip to Philadelphia this fall that will include special events, such as a celebratory luncheon, tour of research labs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and more. The deadline for submission is June 12, 2020.

Visit for details and application.

More information about Dr. Hilleman can be found on the Hilleman Film website ( and from video clips posted on the Vaccine Maker Project (VMP) website ( The VMP website also offers a host of other resources related to infectious diseases, the immune system and vaccines for students in all grade levels.

Educational online games teach about science

Looking for things to do while staying home? Check out our online games that make learning about science fun and engaging for people of all ages:

  • Kahoot! — The Vaccine Makers Project (VMP), the classroom program of the Vaccine Education Center participates in this popular online trivia platform. Each short set of questions includes multiple choice answers and question time limits. The VMP currently offers 14 categories that cover topics related to infectious diseases, vaccines and viruses.
  • Just the Vax — Select from one of four categories, including Vaccines, Vaccines Safety, Vaccines-preventable Diseases, and Famous People & Historical Figures, to play a round of this multiple-choice trivia game. Each round presents 10 randomly selected questions in the chosen category and keeps track of your score, so you can see how you did as compared with others who played that category. Try all four categories, and have fun!
  • Vax Pack Hero — Designed for young children, players of this online game “meet” vaccine heroes who help them beat the germs. Other program elements include trading cards and online information about the heroes and the germs. If players win enough rounds, they get a code to submit for a prize.

COVID-19 resources

  • Keeping Children Up to Date on Immunizations during the Pandemic — To adhere to stay at home orders, and to avoid inadvertently exposing children and their families to COVID-19, many parents have wondered about the need for well visits during which children often get vaccinated. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered guidance. These groups indicated that routine vaccinations should be prioritized for children younger than 2 years of age and should be given to others, including teens and adults, when an opportunity presents itself, such as during visits for minor illnesses. Because vaccine-preventable diseases continue to circulate in communities throughout the U.S., if a group of infants and young children fall behind on vaccines, these diseases will have an opportunity to cause outbreaks once communities reopen. To find out more, check out this article in the Vaccine Update newsletter for healthcare providers. 
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic Answering Your Questions — Do you have questions about COVID-19? The Vaccine Education Center has been compiling answers to common questions on the Vaccine Makers Project website. See if your question is on the list or find out how to submit your question to our experts. 
  • Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 — As more states call for people to wear face masks when they are in public spaces, you may be wondering what is considered acceptable face covering and how to make your own. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers step-by-step tutorials for two kinds of face covering options: Those that can be sewn and those that do not need to be sewn, for those without access to a sewing machine. The CDC also offers information about how to properly wear a face covering, how to safely remove it, and how to care for it. Check it out today!
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home — The CDC provides detailed information about how to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, electronics, soft surfaces, laundry and other items around the house, as well as instructions for cleaning and disinfecting when caring for a household member who has COVID-19. Check the CDC’s webpage for tips and more information.
  • Translated Materials and Resources — The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services offers a host of COVID-19-related information in more than 20 different languages. Check out and share the resources with anyone who might benefit from having the information available in another language. 

Just the Vax Trivia Corner

What committee licenses vaccines?   

  1. The American Association of Vaccine Safety (AAVS)
  2. The Scientific Study Investigators of America (SSIA)
  3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  4. The Center for Vaccine Safety (CVS)
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