Nov 24, 2020 - Health

Essential workers likely to get vaccine priority

A nurse removes her gloves after a shift.
Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Essential workers — who are at higher risk of coronavirus infection and are disproportionately people of color — will likely receive a coronavirus vaccine before adults 65 and older and people with pre-existing medical conditions, STAT reports.

Why it matters: This would be one of the first major steps the U.S. has taken to counteract the racial inequities that have persisted throughout the pandemic.

  • Essential workers would follow health care workers and long-term care residents.

Details: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of outside experts that will make recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about vaccination priorities, made clear when it met on Monday that essential workers should be toward the front of the line.

  • "These essential workers are out there putting themselves at risk to allow the rest of us to socially distance. And they come from disadvantaged situations, they come from disadvantaged communities," Beth Bell, a global health expert from the University of Washington who is on ACIP, told STAT.
  • Many essential workers don't have the option to social distance, unlike some older or sicker Americans.

Yes, but: Some people of color may not want to be vaccinated early, as polling has suggested.

What we're watching: Once the Food and Drug Administration authorizes a vaccine for use, the ACIP will meet and issue recommendations to the CDC about who should be eligible for vaccination. The CDC is then expected to sign off on these recommendations.

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