As months-long efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines come to a head, several groups of people are on track to receive the first round of vaccinations against the coronavirus before the end of the year. On Wednesday, the UK approved Pfizer’s vaccination for use, followed by Canada, and the US just approved it.
The question becomes who will get those first doses and how long will you yourself have to wait to get vaccinated? Despite government efforts to beef up the supply of vaccine doses, simple math shows not everyone will get them at once. There are over 330 million people in the US, but Pfizer says it expects to send the US 25 million doses by the end of 2020, or enough to vaccinate about 12.5 million Americans, as each recipient will need two doses. That’s roughly the populations of New York City and Los Angeles combined.
Moderna says it will be able to make about 15 million vaccine doses at first, which can treat 7.5 million people (again, two shots per person). The unfortunate reality is that most people in the US will have to wait several months at least before they might have access to a coronavirus vaccine. Worse still, it could be a matter of years before everyone in the world can get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The answers as to who gets a priority immunization are becoming a little less hazy, but they’re far from definitive. Here’s what we know of the coronavirus vaccine rollout so far, as well as where you might fall in the priority list. And here’s how much you might expect to pay for your COVID-19 vaccine.
Frontline health care workers, nursing home residents and staff will likely get the first doses
Frontline health care workers who are particularly at risk of being exposed to coronavirus — including the roughly 20 million US doctors, nurses, lab technicians, EMT and hospital staff — have long been at the top of the US priority list. Now that’s nearly official.
An independent advisory panel that reports to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended on Dec. 1 that medical and emergency workers who are at the highest extended daily risk of acquiring COVID-19 should be first in line for a vaccine.
The panel also recommended that employees and residents of long-term care facilities — more or less, nursing homes — should also be part of the first batch of inoculations.
The director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, could decide as soon as this week whether to adopt the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ decision as the agency’s formal guidance. Ultimately, the decision on who gets first dibs on a COVID-19 vaccine belongs to state governors in consultation with their own public health experts, but states typically follow CDC guidelines, The New York Times reported.
Essential workers, people with medical conditions and older adults are next in line
When the CDC advisory panel, ACIP, met last month in preparation for this week’s vote, it identified a handful of other groups that committee members believed should get priority access to coronavirus vaccines while supplies remain limited.
Essential workers:Approximately 87 million US workers provide the basic goods and services we need to survive. Most can’t work from home and many jobs require interacting with the public, so guarding against COVID-19 among this population would have a ripple effect across the whole country while also reducing critical service interruptions.
People with underlying medical conditions:Specifically, the 100 million or so people with conditions putting them at high risk for illness or death from COVID-19. Any disease affecting the lungs, but also anything that could compromise a person’s immune system, like cancer or HIV, would be included.
Older adults: It’s widely accepted that risk of severe complications from COVID-19 increases with age. The ACIP recommends the approximately 53 million US adults age 65 and over be among the first to get vaccinated.
“Out of deference to states and other jurisdictions receiving vaccine doses, a senior administration official said, the Department of Health and Human Services is not publicly releasing planning numbers, but expects to provide more information in the days ahead.
The numbers provided below offer a lens into a national rollout that could begin in just a few days. But because of the differences in reporting practices between states, and because all the numbers given were tentative, they should not be used to draw comparisons.”
A few of the states listed …
A state official said that the federal government was projecting that California would receive about 2 million doses by the end of December.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida would receive 179,400 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Officials in Idaho said they expected to receive 89,150 doses of vaccine in three shipments before the end of the year, including 48,750 Pfizer doses and 40,400 Moderna doses.
A state official said New York expected to receive 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year, followed by another 170,000 doses early next year. The state also announced it expected to receive 346,000 Moderna doses.
Texas officials said they expected 1.4 million doses of vaccine in December.