A government panel officially recommended on Tuesday that early doses of Covid-19 vaccines be given first to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities in the United States, generally considered to be people living in nursing homes. retirement and serviced residences.
Together, this group would represent about 23 million Americans, disproportionately including women, people of color, and the low-paid workers who make up the healthcare workforce.
The recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee is based on a vaccine approved for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration and then recommended by the advisory committee.
“I think my vote reflects maximum benefit, minimum harm, promoting justice and alleviating health inequalities that exist in the distribution of this vaccine,” said José Romero, chairman of the committee, explaining his vote. in favor of the recommendation.
The recommendation will likely be the basis for vaccine distribution for U.S. states and territories, which conduct immunization campaigns. States are expected to complete their final applications for the lead vaccine candidate by the end of this week.
“By the time it takes us to hold this meeting, 180 people will have died from Covid-19,” said Beth Bell, a member of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, a US CDC group that made the formal recommendation.
More than 243,000 health workers have had confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 858 have died, according to CDC data. A separate database maintained by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News is investigating the deaths of more than 1,400 health workers.
Additionally, while residents of long-term care homes make up less than 1% of the U.S. population, they account for over 40% of Covid-19-related deaths.
More than 100,000 people living in nursing homes have died in the pandemic. The advisory committee also recommended that vaccination campaigns focus specifically on nursing homes, where the most medically vulnerable live.
FDA advisers will debate next week whether there is enough evidence to give emergency clearance to a vaccine developed by pharmaceutical partners Pfizer and BioNTech.
If approved, it would be the first Covid-19 vaccine to be distributed, the first to use new messenger RNA technology, and would come as the United States sees an increase in cases that would only worsen in the over the next few months of cold. and vacations.
The hope of the panel’s experts was that vaccinating healthcare workers – ranging from nurses in intensive care units to home health aides and ambulance drivers – would help stabilize the U.S. healthcare workforce at a low level. era of huge demand.
Together, health workers and residents of long-term care facilities will represent “phase 1a” of the vaccine distribution plan.
Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Vaccination and Respiratory Disease, said states believe they can vaccinate workers within weeks of the vaccine’s release.
Most states, she said, “estimate they can immunize all of their health workers in three weeks.” However, she added, such adoption is “the hope that there will be so much support for the vaccine that the workforce will come together.”
The committee did not address the priority of groups following healthcare workers and residents of long-term care homes.
A particularly large and controversial group, called “essential workers”, includes more than 80 million people from various backgrounds.