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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Ask Dr. Nandi: Health care workers and long-term care facility residents should get COVID-19 vaccine first, CDC vaccine advisers say

Posted at 8:01 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 20:01:22-05

An independent committee has recommended to the CDC that health care workers and long-term care residents be first in line to get vaccinated once a coronavirus vaccine is approved.

Referred to as Phase 1a, it will likely include up to 23 million people here in the US.

The group is actually called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. And consists of 14 experts in fields like vaccinology, virology, and immunology.

Now they voted 13-1 in favor of recommending that health care workers and employees and residents at nursing homes be at the front of the line to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Which means one person actually voted against the recommendation.

Their concern centered around elderly folks and how the vaccine has not been widely studied in this group.

Now while I get that, we have to weigh the good with the not-so-good facts. And the facts tell us that roughly 3 million people are living in long-term care. And almost 40% of COVID-19 deaths are elderly folks living in these facilities. That’s a lot of deaths and something has to be done to protect these frail folks.

Ao far, clinical studies have indicated that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and have high efficacy rates. Having said that, the FDA still has to comb through and analyze data. So the advisory committee could change their recommendations based on what the FDA finds.

Now, on top of that, it’s up to the CDC to decide whether or not to accept the advisory committee’s recommendations. And after that, it’s then up to each state to decide whether or not to follow them – which they usually do.

The CDC and the advisory committee are considering a four-phase plan. The next two phases, 1b, and 1c would likely include essential workers, emergency personnel, and folks at risk of severe complications due to underlying health conditions. After that, it’ll likely be open to the general public.

It’s fantastic news that Britain has approved Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use. They expect to get 800,000 doses sent from Pfizer’s facility located in Belgium in the coming days. And then vaccinations will immediately kick off with elderly folks first in line.

Now, you might be wondering why has Britain approved Pfizer’s vaccine and not the US? Well, that’s because the FDA validates the results by reviewing thousands of pages of data. Whereas European regulators tend to rely more on the vaccine companies' reports.

So we will have to be patient while the FDA goes through their approval process. And we expect to know next week if Pfizer will be granted emergency use authorization, and the week after that for Moderna.