Vaccine to healthcare workers, nursing home residents first: Explained

Archive, COVID Blog, COVID Facts, December, Latest News, Month, Topics

An advisory panel recommended COVID-19 vaccines should first go to healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes.

"We’ve been very encouraged
watching the release of the
efficacy data of the vaccine trial..."

With two COVID-19 vaccines showing very high efficacy levels expected to be authorized for emergency use before the end of 2020, the question then became who will get it first.

It was a question that had long been speculated – since the beginning of vaccine development.

Earlier this month, an advisory panel composed of independent science experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, met, voted and recommended that healthcare workers and nursing home residents be prioritized for the first doses of the vaccines when they become available.

“We’ve been very encouraged watching the release of the efficacy data of the vaccine trials, and we’re really looking forward to that day in the near future when we will directly benefit from them,” said Dr. Anthony Ognjan, infectious disease specialist at McLaren Macomb. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve followed and supported the guidelines set by the CDC, and we agree with the importance of prioritizing the people who are most at-risk, but also the frontline providers and others who have been taking care of us.”

The panel’s vote is not a final decision, simply its recommendation. However, the 14-member panel’s recommendations have been routinely followed by federal agencies since its 1964 formation.

The US Food and Drug Administration is schedule to meet this month to consider the vaccines’ emergency usage. The advisory panel has not endorsed a specific vaccine, but will meet again to further evaluate safety and efficacy data.

Healthcare workers and nursing home residents represent approximately 24 million Americans, and it will be up to the individual states on how they follow the recommendation (such as how the individuals making up those broader groups are prioritized).

The advisory panel will meet again to discuss and recommend which groups should next be offered the vaccine. Police, firefighters, elderly individuals, those with underlying conditions and other essential workers are among those being considered.