States Scramble to Allocate COVID-19 Vaccine

CDC advisers recommend health-care workers and nursing home residents get top priority.

December 02, 2020

WASHINGTON—Health-care workers and people who live in long-term care facilities should be first in line for COVID-19 inoculations once vaccines are approved, an advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended yesterday. The final decision on who gets priority ultimately rests with state and local officials, although they are expected to follow CDC advice.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to recommend that about 21 million health-care professionals and about three million residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get the first doses, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Once approved by the head of the CDC, which could come as early as today, those recommendations will be given to the states for guidance in crafting their own vaccination schedule, the Washington Post reports.

U.S. health officials indicate there will be about 40 million doses available this month. Approval from the Food and Drug Administration is expected soon in the U.S. for emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech SE and Moderna. Pfizer is shipping its vaccines to distribution sites in anticipation of FDA approval, the Journal reports.

Today, the U.K. government granted emergency approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech SE two-shot vaccine, with about 800,000 doses expected to be available in Britain next week. Nursing home residents and employees are expected to get the first inoculations in the U.K.

In the U.S., the CDC advisory committee will hold meetings in coming weeks to develop guidance on how to organize the next phases of vaccine distribution, which will include essential workers, adults 65 and older and adults with underlying health conditions.

“The vaccine distribution and program implementation is going to be the most complex vaccination program ever attempted in human history,” Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for immunization education at the Immunization Action Coalition, told CNBC.

NACS has asked the Trump Administration to give c-store employees and other essential workers second priority behind medical staff. Last week, NACS and other fuel industry associations sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services seeking second priority for employees of essential businesses, including convenience and fuel retailers, for a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The letter commended the agency for its playbook released last month, which recommended prioritizing essential industry workers behind health-care personnel.

Coronavirus Resources

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