Health

Older People, Some Essential Workers Should Get Vaccines Next, CDC Panel Says

A pharmacist fills a syringe to prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for front-line health care workers in Torrance, Calif., Saturday. A panel of CDC advisers said people 75 and older and some essential workers should be next in line.
A pharmacist fills a syringe to prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for front-line health care workers in Torrance, Calif., Saturday. A panel of CDC advisers said people 75 and older and some essential workers should be next in line.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

People who are ages 75 and older and frontline essential workers should be next in line to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined Sunday.

Those groups follow frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, who have already begun receiving the limited supplies of vaccines available.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held a vote Sunday to determine the order of high-risk priority groups for Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which encompasses the first months of vaccine distribution. Federal officials anticipate having enough doses to immunize around 100 million people in the U.S. by the end of February 2021 — around a third of the U.S. population.

Sunday's vote established the group's recommendation for the remainder of Phase 1 — Phases 1b and 1c. It follows a vote in early December that recommended health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be the first recipients of COVID-19 vaccines, in Phase 1a — a stage of vaccine distribution that kicked off last week, when the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments started arriving at large hospital systems around the country.

According to Sunday's vote, adults aged 75 and older, along with frontline workers key to societal functioning such as teachers, police officers, fire fighters, prison officers and grocery store workers should be prioritized in Phase 1b.

In Phase 1c, access to COVID-19 vaccines would expand to include adults 65 and older, along with people with underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19, and other essential non-frontline workers including those who work in construction, waste, trucking and food service.

Once the advisory group's recommendations are accepted by CDC Director Robert Redfield, they are expected to be published in the CDC's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly" later this week and will be shared as official CDC guidance.

In Phase 2 of vaccine distribution, supply is expected to expand to the point where a COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone in the U.S. who wants one. Government officials anticipate this could begin as early as the spring.

This story will be updated.

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