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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.

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

U.S. surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Trump's final full day in office

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Over 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: It only took a little over a month for the U.S. to reach this mass casualty after 300,000 COVID deaths were reported last month. That's over 100,000 fatalities in 36 days.

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 19, 2021 - World

Biden will bring U.S. into COVAX vaccine initiative, Blinken says

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken announced in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that President-elect Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX initiative — the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Why it matters: Virtually the entire world has signed onto COVAX, apart from the U.S. and Russia. It's expected to be the only source of vaccines for some of the world's poorest countries, and it needs additional funding to fulfill its goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population in every country by the end of 2021.

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