rainn.png
Sunday June 20th, 2021 3:20AM

US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Deciding that health care workers and nursing home residents should be first in line for the initial, limited supplies of COVID-19 shots wasn't that hard a call. Now U.S. health officials have to determine who should be next.

How high a priority, for example, should senior citizens, teachers, transit workers and supermarket employees get in the next few months as more vaccine becomes available?

A federal panel of vaccination experts takes up that question at an emergency meeting this weekend. Its guidance is not binding, and no matter what it decides, there will be differences from state to state.

The panel members are leaning toward putting “essential workers” next up because people like bus drivers, grocery store clerks and others who perform vital jobs that can't be done from home are the ones getting infected most often. That is also where concerns about racial inequities in the crisis are most apparent. Many essential workers are Black and Hispanic.

But other experts say people 65 and older should be next, along with people with certain medical conditions. Those are the ones who are dying at the highest rates, they say.

The panel is scheduled to vote on the proposal Sunday.

“I think we know this isn't going to be perfect. We don't have vaccine for everyone right away, so we’re going to have to make difficult decisions,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of an organization that represents managers of state vaccination programs.

If essential workers are indeed next up, states already have different ideas about who among them should be closer to the front of the line.

In Nevada, for example, teachers and child care staff will be ahead of public transportation workers, according to the state’s current plan. Then come agriculture and food workers, and then retail and utility employees.

In South Dakota, teachers could get access before those working in food and transportation. In Arkansas, the essential workers list includes teachers, prison guards, police officers, meatpacking plant workers and mayors.

The advice of the expert panel — the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — is almost always endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s what happened earlier this month, when the group said top priority should be given to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes for the 20 million initial vaccinations this month.

But it's not clear things will go the same way in the next phase. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said he believes priority should be given to people 70 and older who live with children or grandchildren.

The advisory panel’s chairman, Dr. Jose Romero, told The Associated Press he was aware of Redfield’s comments but had not spoken directly with him about it.

Redfield declined to say if he would prioritize senior citizens over essential workers even if the panel recommended the reverse. "I look forward to listening to the advisory group’s discussion, and to receiving its recommendation for consideration,” he said in an email to the AP.

Most states followed the panel's recommendation that health care workers and nursing home residents get the very first doses. But there have been a few exceptions.

Utah said long-term care residents should be in line behind health care workers, instead of sharing the front with them. Massachusetts included prisoners and homeless people in the first tier. Nevada, New Hampshire and Wyoming did the same for police officers.

State-to-state variations are likely to increase in the next-priority groups, said the Kaiser Family Foundation's Jennifer Kates, who has been analyzing state vaccination plans.

“I think we're going to see states falling out in different ways,” with some putting older people ahead of essential workers, Kates said.

Things could get messy. For example, some experts said that if one state prioritizes certain essential workers and a neighboring state decides to give primacy to seniors, people might try crossing state lines in hopes of getting vaccinated.

"That’s one of the issues of not having a fully national plan of immunization,” said Romero, who also is the head of the Arkansas state health department.

The proposal before the advisory committee relies on a broad definition of essential workers set in August by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It counts hundreds of different jobs as part of the critical infrastructure workforce, including first responders, teachers, communications technicians, weather forecasters, sewage treatment plant employees and people who work in animal shelters.

According to estimates presented to the advisory committee, as many as 87 million people not working in health care can be counted as essential employees.

The nation has more than 53 million senior citizens. The CDC also counts more than 100 million Americans as having underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe COVID-related illness, though there is overlap between the two groups.

Trade associations and worker groups have been sending emails and other communications to the committee, arguing that they should be given priority.

Julie Russell, representing the Coronado Unified School District in California, urged that teachers and other school workers be prioritized. “We ask that you recognize the importance of the safety of our staff and how many young lives each of us touch,” she said at a meeting last weekend of the panel.

Dr. Charles Lee of the American College of Correctional Physicians pushed for those who work in jails and prisons, plus inmates.

Romero said the committee is likely to discuss ways to help states narrow down which essential workers should go first. For example, people who are considered essential but can work from home might be placed further down the list than those who can't stay 6 feet away from others while on the job.

What about the staff of the Atlanta-based CDC? In a memo to employees that was obtained by the AP, Redfield said the agency will not get a direct allotment of vaccine. However, Georgia's plan allows for certain public health and lab workers to be in the state's highest priority group. Some CDC staff also work at hospitals and clinics, and may be prioritized with staff at those places.

Of course, when more vaccine comes out, “the issue of priority becomes less important,” said Dr. Eric Toner, a Johns Hopkins University scientist who has written about possible vaccination prioritization frameworks.

“The bottom line is we just need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can,” he said.

___

AP writers Candice Choi and Jason Dearen in New York City and Jonathan Poet in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP Health - Senior Health
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
COVID-19 models plot dire scenarios for California hospitals
Gov. Gavin Newsom's dire view of California’s out-of-control surge of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths is based partly on projection models that he says are becoming alarmingly more accurate
12:06AM ( 31 minutes ago )
US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?
Experts are debating who should be next in line for COVID-19 vaccines when more doses become available
12:05AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Judge says strip club ruling also protects restaurants
A California judge said Thursday that all restaurants in San Diego County can resume on-site dining with safety protocols, marking a setback to the governor’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus
9:17PM ( 3 hours ago )
U.S. News
Raiders lose QB Carr, fall in overtime to Chargers, Herbert
Justin Herbert scored on 1-yard plunge to give the Los Angeles Chargers a 30-27 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night
12:03AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Facing crisis, LA's Garcetti ends talk of Biden Cabinet post
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has taken his name out of consideration for a possible post in the Biden administration
12:02AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Asia Today: Beds in short supply as SKorea sees another jump
South Korea has reported 1,062 new cases of the coronavirus, its third straight day of over 1,000, as authorities in Seoul warn that hospital beds are in short supply
11:41PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hack against US is 'grave' threat, cybersecurity agency says
The government’s cybersecurity agency is expressing increased alarm about a hack of computer systems in the U.S. and around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russia
10:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
Nigerian official: More than 300 abducted schoolboys freed
A government official says more than 300 schoolboys abducted last week by gunmen in northwest Nigeria have been released
9:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
Report: Slain officer tripped during California bar massacre
A report finds the sheriff’s sergeant accidentally shot by a fellow police officer as they responded to a mass shooting at a California bar had tripped and fallen during the chaos
9:26PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
Jeremy Bulloch, Boba Fett in first 'Star Wars' trilogy, dies
Jeremy Bulloch, the English actor who played Boba Fett in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died
6:34PM ( 6 hours ago )
2nd COVID-19 vaccine set for OK in US with panel endorsement
A  U.S. government advisory panel has endorsed a second COVID-19 vaccine
6:19PM ( 6 hours ago )
California sets new daily record of 379 virus deaths
California health authorities have reported a one-day record of 379 coronavirus deaths and more than 52,000 new confirmed cases
5:50PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Ex-chief says mayor told him to lie about Daniel Prude death
Rochester, New York’s former police chief alleges the city’s mayor pressured him to lie about her handling of the police killing of Daniel Prude, which was kept from the public for six months, and that she fired him because he refused to do so
6:21PM ( 6 hours ago )
Vaccines reach COVID-ravaged Indigenous communities
The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine are arriving at Native American communities that have been disproportionately sickened and killed by the pandemic
5:27PM ( 7 hours ago )
As US rushes to give shots, Tennessee builds vaccine reserve
Tennessee is the only state that is currently prioritizing building an emergency reserve of the coveted vaccine
2:49PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Biden picks deal-makers, fighters for climate, energy team
Joe Biden has picked some experienced deal-makers and fighters for a climate team he’ll ask to remake much of the U.S. economy
4:59PM ( 7 hours ago )
EU, UK leaders concede big gaps remain in post-Brexit talks
The U.K. and the European Union have provided sober updates on the state of post-Brexit trade discussions, with only two weeks to go before a potentially chaotic split
4:10PM ( 8 hours ago )
EU top official sees 'progress' in post-Brexit talks
The European Union’s top official says “substantial progress on many issues” has been made in post-Brexit talks, yet big differences remain to be bridged
2:47PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
California: More than 1,000 virus deaths in last 5 days
California health authorities have reported a one-day record of 379 coronavirus deaths and more than 52,000 new confirmed cases
10:24PM ( 2 hours ago )
Kemp says Georgia will keep paying for nurses in pandemic
Gov. Brian Kemp says the state of Georgia will keep paying for extra nurses to assist hospitals and nursing homes that have struggled to find staff during the coronavirus pandemic
7:27PM ( 5 hours ago )
Vaccine maker recounts 'breakfast table' pivot to COVID work
The doctor who led development of the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the United States and elsewhere said her company’s decision to shift from cancer research to battling the coronavirus happened over breakfast 11 months ago
1:09PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Health
Vaccinations reach nursing homes as California faces crisis
The first COVID-19 vaccinations are underway at U.S. nursing homes, where the virus has killed upwards of 110,000 people, even as the nation struggles to contain a surge so alarming that California is dispensing thousands of body bags and lining up refrigerated morgue trailers
9:49PM ( 1 day ago )
US vaccinations ramp up as 2nd COVID-19 shot nears
Hundreds more U.S. hospitals have started inoculating their workers as a second COVID-19 vaccine moves toward government authorization
9:23PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: US acting defense secretary gets virus vaccine
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller is among the first Cabinet members to get the vaccine
7:46PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
COVID-19 models plot dire scenarios for California hospitals
Gov. Gavin Newsom's dire view of California’s out-of-control surge of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths is based partly on projection models that he says are becoming alarmingly more accurate
12:06AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Raiders lose QB Carr, fall in overtime to Chargers, Herbert
Justin Herbert scored on 1-yard plunge to give the Los Angeles Chargers a 30-27 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night
12:03AM ( 42 minutes ago )
Facing crisis, LA's Garcetti ends talk of Biden Cabinet post
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has taken his name out of consideration for a possible post in the Biden administration
12:02AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Asia Today: Beds in short supply as SKorea sees another jump
South Korea has reported 1,062 new cases of the coronavirus, its third straight day of over 1,000, as authorities in Seoul warn that hospital beds are in short supply
11:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hack against US is 'grave' threat, cybersecurity agency says
The government’s cybersecurity agency is expressing increased alarm about a hack of computer systems in the U.S. and around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russia
10:48PM ( 1 hour ago )