Advisory Panel: Healthcare Workers, Nursing Home Residents Should Be Vaccinated First
If the FDA approves Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, about 20 million people will be able to receive the first round of shots by the end of the year.
New York – An influential government advisory panel said on Tuesday that healthcare workers and nursing home residents should be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
An overwhelming majority of panelists from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made the recommendations, reports the Associated Press. The U.S. has about 21 million healthcare workers and three million people who live in long-term-care facilities. The total U.S. population is about 330 million.
According to the AP, the broad category of healthcare workers includes:
…medical staff who care for – or come in contact with – patients in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and doctor’s offices. It also includes home health care workers and paramedics. Depending on how state officials apply the panel’s recommendations, it could also encompass janitorial staff, food service employees and medical records clerks.
Whether or not healthcare workers and nursing home residents are vaccinated this month, however, depends on if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. It’s expected the FDA will soon be making that determination.
It’s estimated that as many as 40 million doses of the vaccines will be available by the end of the year. Each vaccine requires two doses, so that means only 20 million people will be able to receive the first round of vaccines.
However, CBS News is reporting that even if all goes according to the government’s plan for rolling out the vaccines, many areas will initially receive only a fraction of the doses needed to cover their healthcare workers. The number of doses Maine would receive would cover about a third of the healthcare workers in that state. Minneapolis would initially receive 19,000 doses but needs 57,000 doses to cover its frontline healthcare workers.
The advisory committee is scheduled to meet again to determine who will be the next in line to be vaccinated. The most likely candidates are teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, food production workers, transportation workers, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
By early 2021, Pfizer and Moderna will most likely be able to ship about 70 million vaccine doses per month, reports the Washington Post. If vaccines from other companies are approved, the total number shipped per month could be 150 million by March.
The New York Times is reporting that people who aren’t a priority, such as healthy, nonessential workers under the age of 65, could be vaccinated by early summer.
Tuesday’s recommendations are not binding, but the committee making them is widely respected by doctors. Each state will make their own determinations.
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