US scientists release guidance on COVID-19 vaccine distribution

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report Sept. 1 that lays out detailed recommendations on who should be prioritized to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved. 

NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, tasked the academy with drafting the 114 page report. The academy said the recommendations are based in part off of lessons learned from past pandemics. 

Experts have warned that after a vaccine is approved, the U.S. will have a limited supply of doses and will have to decide which people to prioritize being vaccinated. 

The report lays out four different phases of vaccine distribution. The first phase, called the "Jumpstart Phase," prioritizes giving the vaccine to healthcare workers in high-risk settings and first responders. Phase 1b suggests giving the vaccine to people with comorbidities that put them at higher risk for severe COVID-19 as well as older adults living in long-term care facilities. 

The second phase gives the vaccine to people working jobs in industries essential to the functioning of society as well as teachers, school staff and all older adults not included in Phase 1. Phase 2 also includes people in homeless shelters or group homes and people in prison or jail and the staff who work there. 

The third phase includes young adults, children, and workers in industries essential to society that weren't included in the previous phases. 

The fourth and final phase includes every U.S. citizen who didn't receive a vaccine in the previous phases.

Though it has been reported that people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report doesn't recommend prioritizing them as a distinct group because the committee said there doesn't appear to be a biological reason for them to be more seriously affected by the pandemic. 

The report is open for public comment until Sept. 4, and a final report will be submitted later this month. It is still unclear who will make the final decisions on vaccine prioritization. 

Find the full report here


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