Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First?

As the pandemic continues to kill thousands globally, healthcare experts say that doses of the long awaited COVID-19 vaccine will have to be prioritized, and given to those who need the most protection. This week the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested a multi-tiered guideline for global vaccine allocation. Their recommendations mirror a preliminary draft plan from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), with some differences.

According to Nature, NASEM recommends a five-phase plan for equitable allocation of the coronavirus to Americans. The first phase will address healthcare workers and first responders. Next, people with underlying conditions that put them at severe risk for COVID-19 disease or death will get vaccinated. These would be followed by essential service workers who are also at high risk of exposure such as teachers and people in homeless shelters and prisons. The fourth phase of vaccination rounds would include young adults, children and essential service workers at increased risk of exposure. Finally, all remaining residents would receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The WHO guidance urges richer countries to ensure that poorer countries receive vaccines in the earliest days of allocation, according to Nature. It also says that government leaders have early access, unlike the NASEM recommendations.

The NASEM guide will provide the structure for a more specific and detailed vaccination campaign, according to Healthline. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is also working o similar vaccination plan that puts healthcare workers at the head of the class for the shot.

“You can’t give it to everybody simultaneously, we won’t have enough doses,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University told Healthline. “So, we’re going to have to decide who is first, second, third in line.”

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