CDC Panel Recommends Giving First Covid-19 Vaccines to Health Workers, Nursing Homes -- 2nd Update
By Peter Loftus and Jared S. Hopkins
A federal vaccine advisory panel recommend that health-care
workers and residents of long-term care facilities be the first to
receive any Covid-19 vaccine doses from the limited supply that
will be available initially.
The recommendations approved in a 13-1 vote Tuesday by the
panel, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, apply to about 21 million health-care workers and three
million residents of long-term care facilities.
Federal officials have said they expect there will be about 40
million doses available in December. The initial vaccines available
are given in two doses three or four weeks apart, so there may be
enough for 20 million people to be vaccinated in the early weeks.
Supplies are expected to increase during 2021.
U.S. health regulators are expected to decide in the coming
weeks whether to authorize the emergency use of two Covid-19
vaccines, one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and another from
Moderna Inc. The companies have been manufacturing doses but it
could take several months to make enough to vaccinate the broader
The CDC usually follows the recommendation of its advisory
panel, and its decision is expected by the time any inoculations
are authorized. States, which ultimately will decide how to
allocate Covid-19 vaccine supplies, have been waiting for the
recommendations. States have until Friday to indicate to the
federal government where they want their initial doses sent.
The CDC panel, an outside group of medical experts known as the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, held an emergency
meeting Tuesday to consider how to prioritize which groups are most
in need of receiving the initial doses.
"We see a growing number of health-care providers that have
become infected and some of which, unfortunately, have passed
away," said committee chairman José Romero. "We see individuals
living in long-term care facilities are at exceptional risk for
mortality and morbidity due to the virus and disease."
Other high-risk populations, including essential workers such as
teachers and police, adults with underlying health conditions and
people ages 65 and over who aren't in communal settings, are
expected to be next in line, although the panel didn't set
recommendations for them yet.
Votes on the order of priority for them would probably come
later, after U.S. regulators authorize each vaccine and more
clinical trial data becomes available.
Health experts have long expected that ACIP would recommend that
doctors, nurses and other health workers taking care of Covid-19
patients get first dibs. A special National Academy of Medicine
committee gave similar guidance. Adding residents of long-term care
facilities represents a compromise with some federal health
officials advocating for those most vulnerable to Covid-19,
according to people familiar with the discussions.
Still, the expected limited supply means there may not be enough
even for all health-care workers and long-term care residents in
the early days of vaccination. So facilities will need to further
prioritize who among their staff and residents should get shots in
the early days.
CDC staffers who briefed the advisory panel Tuesday said skilled
nursing sites should be given priority among long-term care
facilities because they house the most medically vulnerable
residents. Among health-care workers, those in direct contact with
sick patients and infectious materials should get priority over
others, said Dr. Sara Oliver, a CDC officer who is working with the
Hospitals and other health facilities also must consider the
vaccines' side effects when scheduling immunizations. In studies,
people receiving Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines experienced
symptoms like fever and headache, which were more intense after the
second doses. CDC officials said health facilities should avoid
vaccinating all of their workers at once, and instead stagger them
in case workers have to miss work for a day or two if they
experience side effects.
Betsy McKay contributed to this article.
Write to Peter Loftus at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jared S.
Hopkins at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 01, 2020 18:52 ET (23:52 GMT)
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