Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first in line to get the coronavirus vaccine, a panel of medical experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The 15-member Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend giving priority to the two groups — who encompass some 23 million Americans.
The rollout of vaccines is expected to begin in mid- to late December. According to current estimates, no more than 20 million doses of the two vaccines from drug-makers Moderna and Pfizer will be available by the end of 2020, meaning the shots will have to be rationed in the early stages. The ACIP, which was founded in 1964, makes recommendations to the CDC director, who almost always approves them. The panel’s advice has been widely heeded by doctors over the years. Still, the recommendation isn’t binding and state authorities will be able to decide whether to follow the guidance.
The vote comes a day after Moderna requested emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA will be meeting on Dec. 17 to consider the application from Moderna. It’ll also convene Dec. 10 to discuss the application from Pfizer for its vaccine.
The advisory panel will meet at a later date to decide who should be next in line for the show — with possibilities including teachers, police officers, firefighters, other essential workers and people with underlying health conditions. Experts say the vaccine probably won’t be widely available until the spring. It was a reasonable decision and vote. It is a start, thanks to Trump.