Police, firefighters, teachers and grocery workers will be among those next in line for a COVID-19 vaccine allocation, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel decided Sunday.
The committee voted 13 to 1 to make the recommendations to have Phase 1b include people 75 and older and front-line essential workers. Phase 1c will include people aged 65 to 74 and people between 16 and 64 who have high-risk medical conditions along with other essential workers.
The panel spent the day discussing who would follow front-line health care workers and people in long-term care facilities in receiving vaccines, a second phase that could begin in February.
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11. The Moderna vaccine was authorized Friday and should begin arriving at hospitals on Monday.
The question of who should come next is not an easy one, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
“There will be difficult choice about who gets the vaccine,” she told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as it began its deliberations Sunday morning. The committee is responsible for making recommendations on who gets what vaccines when.
The United States has created a phased vaccination plan for coronavirus because there won’t be enough vaccine in the beginning of the rollout.
Phase 1a includes front-line health care workers and people in long-term care facilities.
“Essential workers are at high risk because of exposure, by virtue of being in contact with others, in performing their duties. Prevention of disease in essential workers may reduce transmission to others,” said Dr. Kathleen Dooling, a CDC physician who is co-lead on the ACIP COVID-19 Vaccines Working Group,
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
These workers are considered essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to SARS-Co/V-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They include about 30 million people and include these groups:
First responders such as firefighters, police
Teachers, support staff, daycare workers
Food and agriculture workers
U.S. Postal Service workers
Public transit workers
Grocery store workers
Phase 1c would include people 65 to 74, those 16 to 64 who have high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not recommended in Phase 1b.
Those other essential workers include about 57 million people and would include:
Public health workers
Transportation and logistics workers
Food service workers
IT & Communications workers
Public safety engineers
Water and wastewater workers
Medical conditions with sufficient evidence to have been associated with severe COVID-19 disease include:
Type 2 diabetes
COPD, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic kidney disease
Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
Sickle cell disease
Smoker (current or with a history of smoking)
Phase 2 would include all people 16 and over who were not in Phase 1 who are recommended for the vaccination. That means people 16 and over with high-risk medical conditions.
Because vaccine supplies are initially limited, Phase 1b isn’t expected to begin until February.
Operation Warp Speed, the White House COVID-19 vaccine and treatment accelerator, has said it expects to distribute 20 million doses in December, followed by 60 million in January, and 100 million by February. That’s a total of 180 million doses by the end of February, which means 90 million people would be fully vaccinated as both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
Exactly how the 20 million doses will be distributed by the end of the month is not clear. Last week, a total of 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was distributed. This coming week another 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed together with 5.9 million doses of Moderna vaccine.
More vaccines are in the pipeline. Another candidate, from Johnson & Johnson, fully enrolled its large-scale human trial Thursday and expects to report its first safety and effectiveness data in January.
A fourth, created by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, is a few weeks behind, and a fifth candidate, by vaccine developer Novavax of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is expected to begin its major U.S. trial shortly.
If all or most of these come through, there should be plenty of vaccine by the end of next summer to cover every American who wants one.
Contributing: Karen Weintraub
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 vaccine: Police, firefighters, teachers will be next in line