CDC panel: Health care workers, nursing home residents should get vaccine first

Nearly 20 million health care workers and nursing home residents should get first priority for a COVID-19 vaccination to keep the country’s hospitals and clinics working, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended Tuesday.

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The recommendation was made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The vote was 13-1 that both groups would be first in line to receive any coronavirus vaccines that get emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently,” the CDC said. “Health care personnel are defined as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure or infectious materials.”

The lone vote against the recommendation came from Dr. Helen Talbot of Vanderbilt University, CNN reported. Talbot said she was concerned that the vaccine had not been studied in residents of long-term care facilities.

“We hope it works and we hope it’s safe,” Talbot said. “That concerns me on many levels.”

ACIP chairman Jose Romero said he believed the residents face a high risk.

“I believe my vote represents maximum benefit, minimum harm, promoting justice and mitigating … health inequalities,” Romero said.

“In the time it takes us to have this meeting, 180 people will have died of Covid-19,” Beth Bell, another member of the ACIP, said during the meeting.

States are not required to follow the CDC’s recommendations, but most probably will, Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told The New York Times before the panel met.

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