Who will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available is starting to come into focus. A report released Friday breaks the U.S. population into four groups and assigns each a place in line.
Not unexpectedly, people who risk their lives to care for those suffering from COVID-19 – the “jump start” group – will have first dibs, along with police, firefighters and paramedics.
The recommendations come from a federal panel working on a fair and just vaccine allocation plan since July. The first group, called Phase 1a, includes front-line health workers, ambulance drivers, hospital and clinic cleaners and first responders — about 5% of the total U.S. population.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was tasked with looking at the ethical questions associated with distributing a lifesaving vaccine in the midst of a pandemic. The report was requested by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States already is making millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine before it’s even known which candidate will end up working. Even so, rationing at the beginning will be needed because it will take time to get shipping and delivery systems up and running smoothly.When a vaccine or vaccines will be ready isn’t know. It could be as soon as November but after the first of the year is most likely, scientists say.
The panel’s goal is to develop a rollout plan that maximizes the benefit to society by focusing on those at highest risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19.
“We hope these guidelines serve as the impetus for one of the most consequential peacetime efforts this country has ever seen,” said committee co-chair William Foege, emeritus distinguished professor of international health at Emory University and former CDC director.
Ultimately the decision of how coronavirus vaccine will be allocated rests on CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, whose guidelines will be informed in part by Friday’s report. As soon as the Food and Drug Administration authorizes a new vaccine, the advisory committee offers guidelines on how it should be distributed, to whom and when.
People in Phase 1a are critical to keeping the health care system functioning and are at high risk of exposure to sick patients. They’re also at higher risk of then transmitting the virus to others, including family members.
The second phase of vaccine distribution — Phase 1b — covers about 10% of the population. It includes people of all ages with underlying conditions like cancer, serious heart conditions, and sickle cell disease that put them at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease or death.
This group includes people with two or more chronic conditions that put them at higher risk, including kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity or diabetes.
This phase also includes people 65 and older living in nursing homes,…