Who Will be First?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be composing their priority list of who is to receive the approved COVID-19 vaccines and in what order. At the present time an advisory committee is creating that list and will submit it to the CDC in the near future. The CDC may accept the list “as is” or may make adjustments as they see fit. Front line healthcare workers and first responders are undoubtedly going to be at the top of the list. This must include our much maligned police who often “get in the face” of violent criminals and are forced to deal with blood and body fluids (usually spit). It’s an everyday event for EMS personnel, ER nurses & providers to be splattered with blood and/or various body fluids. Hospital staff (including those in the laboratory and radiology departments) caring for COVID-19 patients should be among the first to receive the vaccine as well. Second on the list should be elderly nursing home residents and their staff. Remember that a greater percentage of deaths have taken place in those over the age of 65 so we should focus on seeing that the most vulnerable are protected. The aging immune system is less capable of dealing with any infection, particularly one as lethal as SARS-CoV2. Additionally there are few individuals in this age category who don’t have multiple comorbidities increasing their risk even further. Those who work in our correctional system should be next in line to receive the vaccine. Dealing with high-risk individuals in confined space puts prison guards in a dangerous situation both physically and medically. People with multiple comorbidities under the age of 65 should be next in line and then anyone else who wants the vaccine. The CDC is hoping that by mid-summer we can have achieved herd immunity.

The committee recommendations will likely be accepted pretty much “as is” by CDC Director Robert Redfield. State governments are not bound by the CDC recommendations but it is likely they will adopt the CDC guidelines. Some states could make a few additions/subtractions based on their individual state’s needs. New York State Governor Cuomo has been very outspoken in opposition to everything the Trump administration has proposed with respect to the pandemic. Despite his statement that he would have his own panel “review” the vaccine study results before administering it to his residents, New York WILL be among those receiving early shipments of the Pfizer vaccine. States are being asked to submit vaccine requests to the federal government by the end of this week. The advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) votes on Pfizer’s request for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec 10. If the EUA is granted shipments of their vaccine will begin the following day. Moderna’s request for an EUA of their equally effective vaccine will be voted on by the same advisory committee the following week (Dec 17). Formal approval of the vaccines will likely be made soon after these meetings. The Pfizer vaccine received an EUA in the United Kingdom where they have access to 800,000 doses and have ordered another 40 million doses. Administration in the U.K. will be prioritized to healthcare workers and elderly people in care homes and those who care for them.

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