The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have outlined who should be among the first people in the United States to get a coronavirus vaccine.
The CDC sent out a guidance to officials in all 50 states about the possibility of rolling out a vaccine by late October or early November. There could be an estimated 15 million doses of the vaccine available by the end of the year, according to the CDC.
But who would get the vaccine first, and why?
Healthcare professionals, essential workers, national security populations and long-term care residents and staff should be first in line, according to the CDC.
The CDC lists 672 coronavirus-related deaths among healthcare personnel as of Sept. 3. But Dr. Claire Rezba, an anesthesiologist in Virginia, said she had counted at least 1,000 since tracking healthcare deaths in late March, CBS reported in mid-August.
Essential workers, including those in retail, food-processing and meatpacking, are also being hit hard by COVID-19. More police officers have died of the coronavirus this year than from any other cause, according to data from two law enforcement nonprofits.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are coronavirus hotspots, as older adults with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk. A USA Today analysis in June found about 40% of the country’s coronavirus deaths were among long-term care residents and workers, amounting to more than 40,000 deaths over several months.
As for national security, about 1,800 Transportation Security Administration employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and six have died since the start of the pandemic, the Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday.
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed seeks to have 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by January 2021.
Dozens of potential coronavirus vaccines are currently in trials, including several in Phase 3 in which thousands of people are given the vaccine to test its effectiveness and safety, The New York Times reported.
Public health experts have expressed concerns about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration using emergency authority to greenlight a COVID-19 vaccine before it’s ready.
“I think it’s extremely critical that we have rigorous evidence of safety and effectiveness supporting a vaccine before the FDA gives its OK,” Patricia Zettler, a former FDA associate chief counsel, told The Washington Post.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said he is optimistic about the release of a vaccine this year.
“I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci told NBC News on Wednesday.
CDC Director Robert Redfield in a letter to governors this week urged states to prepare a “fully operational” plan for distributing vaccines.