It is likely that limited doses of coronavirus vaccine will be available immediately after a vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Apart from health workers, others will be the first in line to get older and older with chronic underlying diseases as well as communities of color disproportionately affected by this epidemic,” Gounder told CNN.
“Now it’s starting to get a little more controversial among these groups,” he added. “How do you highlight the differences between an 85-year-old woman in a nursing home and an 65-year-old African-American woman — especially when that 65-year-old may be at equally high risk for a major illness?”
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that groups be vaccinated first.
“It’s going to be a little political and, frankly, here to leave the president-elect with the task of public health experts and scientists to figure out how to allocate the limited amount first,” Gounder said.
The ACIP convened an emergency meeting on December 1 to vote for the very first group to be vaccinated.
“Because we know the vaccine will be available in very limited doses, even if healthcare workers and the elderly in their population are preferred, it will be very important to be a little more granular,” said Rick Bright, Biden’s coronavirus advisory board.
“This detail will be discussed with health care workers. If I only have so many doses at my disposal, how do I prioritize these health care workers and make these recommendations to states?” he added.
Typically, ACIP meets after the FDA approves the vaccine to make recommendations, but they work proactively pending a quick decision by the FDA.
“We will require direct authorization if this vaccine proves to be effective and safe in the near future, and we want to be at the point where we give proper guidance to states and jurisdictions on the use of these vaccines,” said ACIP President dr. Jose Romero told CNN.
Romero, health secretary at the Arkansas Department of Health, said Tuesday’s vote is about the group receiving the very first vaccinations, which could include health care providers and long-term people.
Pfizer has asked the FDA for emergency approval of its vaccination. An independent panel of experts, the FDA Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products, will meet on December 10 to discuss the application. FDA officials say the decision should be made within a few weeks of the meeting and probably much sooner.