Vaccine advisers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday voted 13-1 to recommend that older adults, aged 75 and over, and “essential frontline workers,” including early stakeholders, be the next to receive the Covid-19 vaccines.
This would place these people in “phase 1b” of national vaccine allocation.
This committee vote also provided for prioritizing adults aged 65 to 75, people aged 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions and “other essential workers” in “phase 1c” of the attribution.
“They really serve to address the current shortage of vaccine supplies and to reach people at the highest risk of disease,” said Dr José Romero, chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Secretary from the Arkansas Department of Health on recommendations. .
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met on Sunday to discuss phases 1b and 1c of vaccine distribution.
At a previous meeting at the beginning of the month, the group voted on phase 1a, who advised giving the first round of vaccines to health workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
There are two Covid-19 vaccines – Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna – currently licensed for emergency use in the United States.
Who is an essential worker?
A working group within the advisory committee defined essential frontline workers as “workers who are in sectors critical to the functioning of society and who are at significantly higher risk of exposure” to the coronavirus that causes Covid -19.
Essential frontline workers in Phase 1b include first responders, people in education, those working in food and agriculture, those working in manufacturing, correctional service workers, U.S. postal service workers, transit workers, and grocery store workers.
It is estimated that there are approximately 30 million essential frontline workers in the United States.
The category of other essential workers in phase 1c includes people in the transport and logistics, catering, construction and housing and housing, finance, IT and communication sectors, energy, media, legal, public safety, and water and wastewater industries.
It is estimated that there are approximately 57 million other essential workers in the United States.
The hardest vote
“This is without a doubt the toughest vote I have taken in six and a half years on the committee,” Romero said.
“I am confident that we have achieved this by carefully reviewing the data and that what we provide – as has already been said – the final decision will be made at the local level. But what we provide to governors and health officials with is a framework, which is supported by evidence, ”Romero said.
He voted “yes” to the recommendations proposed for phases 1b and 1c.
Committee member Dr Peter Szilagyi, who also voted ‘yes’, agreed the decision was difficult.
“I really wish everyone could get the vaccine today, and I know people at high risk are not included in phase 1b,” said Szilagyi, who is in the pediatrics department at the University. from California to Los Angeles. “But over the course of several months, as the vaccine supply increases, every American will have access to these safe and effective vaccines.”
The only “no” vote came from Dr. Henry Bernstein, who is professor of pediatrics at the Zucker School of Medicine in Hofstra. Bernstein explained that he voted no because he felt the science on Covid-19 morbidity and mortality is similar between the 65- to 74-year-old group and the 75-and-over group.
“Therefore, including the 65 to 74 age group in phase 1b made more sense to me,” said Bernstein.
The need for financing
In their vote, most committee members also called on the government to fully fund immunization programs for state and local health departments.
“The fact that the state and local health departments were not funded for the immunization program, especially in the context of the billions of dollars that funded the extremely successful vaccine development program is truly appalling,” said Dr Beth Bell, who voted “yes” on the proposal.
“I am just one person, but I would just like to say, once again, that I hope the government will correct this gap, without which I think it will be very difficult for us to be successful,” said Bell, a clinical professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington.
The Advisory Committee recommendations for Phases 1b and 1c are then submitted to CDC for final acceptance.