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Older people versus essential workers: who should get the coronavirus vaccine first?

In September, university researchers analyzed the Department of Homeland Security’s Essential Worker List and found that it broadly reflected the demographics of the U.S. workforce. The researchers proposed a smaller and more vulnerable category – “frontline workers,” such as food deliverers, cashiers and emergency medical technicians, who have to work face to face with others and are therefore more at risk of contracting the virus.

By this definition, said Francine D. Blau, Cornell University labor economist and author of the study, teachers fall into the broader category of essential workers. However, when working in classrooms rather than remotely, she said, could they be part of the “front line” group. Individual states rank teachers differently.

Dr Blau said if supplies are insufficient, frontline workers should be highlighted. “They are a subset of essential workers who, given the nature of their work, must deliver their work in person. Prioritizing them makes sense given the increased risk they face. “

The analysis, a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, supports other critics, who say the list of essential workers is too broad.

“If the groups are too big, then you don’t really focus on the priorities,” said Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, who has worked on immunization frameworks for WHO and academies. national.

Essential workers on the federal list make up nearly 70% of the U.S. workforce, the researchers said, compared to 42% for frontline workers. Women made up 39 percent of frontline workers and, in some occupations, significantly more. The education level of frontline workers is lower, as are their wages – on average, just under $ 22 an hour. The proportion of black and Hispanic workers is higher than in the broader category of essential workers.

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