First COVID-19 vaccines to be offered to health workers, nursing homes, CDC panel says

Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first groups to be offered the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new proposal from an independent advisory committee within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reported by NBC.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met virtually on Tuesday to discuss who would receive the first doses of the vaccine and to vote on the proposed language for the recommendation. The proposal passed 13 to 1.

The panel of outside scientific experts makes recommendations to the CDC, which almost always accepts them.

“We have spent eight months discussing and evaluating the data,” Dr. José Romero, ACIP chair, said following the vote. “We are using the principles of maximizing benefits and minimizing harms, promoting justice and mitigating health inequities.”

The first phase of the vaccine rollout will be known as Phase 1a and is set to begin as soon as a vaccine receives authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, which is currently reviewing data on two vaccines, made by Pfizer and Moderna. The FDA’s advisory committee will meet on Dec. 10 to consider an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine.

Current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of the year. And each product requires two doses.

As a result, the shots will be rationed in the early stages. Experts say the vaccine will probably not become widely available in the U.S. until the spring.

The two groups in Phase 1a together represent around 24 million Americans — 21 million health care workers and 3 million residents of long-term care facilities. Staff working at long-term care facilities are considered among the health care workers.

The advisory panel will meet again in several weeks to decide who should be next in line.

Among the possibilities: teachers, police officers, firefighters and workers in other essential fields such as food production and transportation; the elderly; and people with underlying medical conditions.

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