The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended prioritizing health care personnel (HCP) and long-term care facility (LTCF) residents as the first group (Phase 1a) to receive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

The recommendation was made based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among these 2 groups, as well as ethical and scientific considerations. As of November 30, 2020, there have been roughly 243,000 confirmed cases and 858 deaths among HCPs. As these individuals provide care in high-risk settings, vaccinating this group first, according to the ACIP, would help protect HCPs and preserve health care capacity.

Residents of long-term care facilities made up roughly 6% of cases and 40% of deaths in the US (as of November 24, 2020), according to the information presented at the emergency meeting. Given that these individuals are at high risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19, they were prioritized in an effort to reduce hospital utilization.

As initial doses of the vaccine may be limited, sub-prioritization may be required, according to the panel. For HCPs, sub-prioritization considerations include: individuals with direct patient contact who are unable to telework, personnel working in residential care or long-term care facilities, and those without known infection in the prior 90 days.


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A decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on whether to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to 2 mRNA-based vaccines is expected shortly. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet on December 10th to discuss EUA of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in individuals 16 years of age and older. A second meeting to discuss Moderna’s vaccine is scheduled for December 17th.  While the expert panel provides recommendations to the Agency based on the safety and efficacy data presented, the final decision for emergency use is made by the FDA.

References

1.      ACIP Presentation Slides: December 2020 Meeting. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/slides-2020-12.html Accessed December 2, 2020.

2.      FDA announces Advisory Committee meeting to discuss COVID-19 vaccine candidate [press release]. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; November 20, 2020. 

3.      FDA announces Advisory Committee meeting to discuss second COVID-19 vaccine candidate. [press release]. Silver Spring, MD: US Food and Drug Administration; November 30, 2020.