This Is Exactly When We’ll Know Who’s Getting the COVID Vaccine First


The prospect of actually getting the COVID-19 vaccine is seeming more like a reality than a far-off hope these days. With the approval and subsequent rollout imminent, the one question on everyone’s mind is: How will the vaccine be distributed—or, more precisely, who will get it first? For those anxiously waiting to get in line for the vaccine, those answers, and the shot itself, are coming soon… very soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices scheduled an emergency meeting for Dec. 1 to establish who will get vaccinated first, the Associated Press reports. Read on for the details, and for more vaccine news, check out The Vaccine Will Only Keep You Safe From COVID for This Long, Fauci Says.

The committee is set to vote on Tuesday, Dec. 1 on who should be the very first to get the COVID-19 vaccine, once it’s approved. After they make their recommendations on who to vaccinate and when, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, will decide whether or not to implement them.

The agenda for the emergency vaccine meeting was posted on Friday, Nov. 27. While it doesn’t give much away, the committee’s early deliberations, which were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), have suggested four key groups will be among the earliest vaccine recipients, which the CDC is labeling as “Phase 1a.”

The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. ET, with the vote taking place at 4:40 p.m. ET. But while we wait, read on to see who could be in “Phase 1a” of the COVID vaccine. And for more on the latest vaccine news, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to Stop COVID.

Female doctor in PPE sitting on hospital bed

In their early report in MMWR, the committee suggested that the nation’s 21 million health care workers should be first to get the vaccine. As of Nov. 29, the CDC’s figures suggest that at least 242,366 COVID cases have been recorded in the profession, including 857 deaths.

“The ability of essential workers, including health care workers and non-health care workers, to remain healthy has a multiplier effect,” the CDC’s report reads. That means their ability to “remain healthy helps protect the health of others and/or minimiz[es] disruption to society and the economy.” And if you’re curious about what the vaccine feels like, check out The COVID Vaccine Side Effects Doctors Are Worried About.

closeup of firefighter sitting

According to the CDC, this group of 87 million people includes police officers, firefighters, teachers, grocery store employees, and transportation workers. “To me, the issue of ethics is very significant, very important for this country and clearly favors the essential worker group,” Peter Szilagyi, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times recently. He also pointed out that many of these workers are from minority and low-income groups, who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. And for more on how the vaccine works, read up on why You Need to Quit This Bad Habit Before Getting a COVID Vaccine, Study Says.

man gets blood sugar levels checked by nurse, both wear masks

This group, which includes more than 100 million Americans, could also be among the first to get the COVID vaccine. The CDC’s report notes that, as of Oct. 31, “nearly 90 percent of persons with COVID-19-associated hospitalizations have at least one high-risk condition,” making those with co-morbidities an important group to protect. And for more regular COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Senior woman wearing a face mask as required to enter an airport during Covid-19 pandemic, Indiana, USA

The last group the CDC seems to be considering for vaccine priority is senior citizens, specifically those over the age of 65. The committee notes that the challenge of vaccinating this group “will require focused outreach to vaccinate persons in this group who have no or limited access to health care or experience inequities in social determinants of health.” And for more on the latest with the vaccine rollout, beware that If You’re This Age, You May Be Last to Get the COVID Vaccine, Fauci Says.

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