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Frontline workers and people over 74 should get vaccinated next, CDC panel says

Coming to a compromise between two high-risk population groups, a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Sunday to recommend that people aged 75 and over be the next to receive the coronavirus vaccine in the United States. , with around 30 million people. essential front-line workers, ”including emergency responders, teachers and grocery store workers.

The debate over who should get the vaccine in those first few months has become increasingly urgent as the daily count of cases has become unimaginable even a month ago. The country has already started vaccinating healthcare workers, and on Monday CVS and Walgreens were due to launch a mass vaccination campaign in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country. This week, around six million doses of the newly licensed Moderna vaccine are expected to start arriving at more than 3,700 sites across the country, including many smaller and rural hospitals.

The panel of doctors and public health experts had previously said they would recommend a much larger group of Americans defined as essential workers – around 87 million people in jobs designated by a division of the Department of Homeland Security. as essential to the next priority population and that the elderly who live independently should come later.

But during Sunday discussion hours, committee members concluded that given the limited initial supply of vaccines and the higher Covid-19 death rate among older Americans, it made more sense to allow the older among them to follow the workers more at risk of exposure to the virus.

Core worker groups, such as construction and food service workers, the committee said, would be eligible for the next wave. Members clarified that local organizations have great flexibility in making these decisions.

“I am very convinced that we need to find this balance between saving lives and keeping our infrastructure in place,” said Dr Helen Talbot, panel member and infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University..

Together, the two groups the committee voted to prioritize on Sunday number around 51 million people; Federal health officials have estimated that there should be enough vaccines to get them all vaccinated by the end of February.

Yet as the first week of vaccination in the United States drew to a close, frustrations were flamboyant to the rhythm of Distribution. This weekend, General Gustav F. Perna, who heads the Trump administration’s distribution effort, apologized for more than a dozen states learning at the last minute that they would be receiving fewer doses vaccine manufactured by Pfizer next week than expected. Tensions were also swarming in some states over local decisions about which health workers should get immunized immediately and who should wait.

CDC director Dr Robert Redfield will review the committee’s recommendation and decide, likely by Monday, whether to adopt it as the agency’s official guideline to states. The expert group, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, stressed that its recommendations were not binding and that each state would be able to refine or adjust them to meet the unique needs of its population.

The 13-1 vote came as frustration erupted over the pace of vaccine distribution. Some 128,000 injections were given in the first five days of the vaccine in the United States, according to a New York Times vaccine tracking database – just over half of the number of new cases reported across the country Friday only. This weekend, General Gustav F. Perna, who is leading the Trump administration’s distribution effort, apologized for at least 14 states learning at the last minute that they would receive fewer doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer next week than expected. Tensions were also mounting in some states over local decisions about which health workers should get immunized immediately and who should wait.

In addition to teachers, firefighters and police, a subgroup of the committee suggested that “essential frontline workers” should include school support staff; daycare, correctional staff, public transport, grocery store and post office workers; and those working in food production and manufacturing. But the group’s official recommendation isn’t that specific.

Originally, the committee reported last month that it was inclined to let 87 million essential workers receive vaccines before adults 65 and older. Many had expressed concern that essential workers, who are often low-paid people of color, were disproportionately affected by the virus and were further disadvantaged due to their reduced access to good health care.

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