U.S. Advisory Group Lays Out Detailed Recommendations on How to Prioritize COVID-19 Vaccine

September 3, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified September 4, 2020

According to this article by STAT News, a new report that aims to prioritize groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine focuses on who is at risk, rather than using job categories or ethnic groups to determine who should be at the front of the line.

It was widely expected that health care workers would be the first priority grouping, and some — though not all — are. There were also many voices arguing for people of color to be given priority access, because the pandemic has exacted a disproportionately heavy toll on Black and Latinx people, both in terms of overall numbers of infections and deaths.

But in the end, the panel of experts that wrote the priority setting framework for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chose instead to focus on the factors that create the risk for some people of color — systemic racism that leads to higher levels of poor health and socioeconomic factors such as working in jobs that cannot be done from home or living in crowded settings.

The CDC estimates that there are between 17 million and 20 million health care workers in the country, and roughly 100 million people with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. There are roughly 53 million Americans aged 65 and older, and 100 million people in jobs designated as essential services. There is some overlap among these groups — health workers, for instance, are also essential workers.

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