As the U.S. passes 300,000 COVID-19 deaths and the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna begin to roll out, various groups of workers are wondering what priority their professions might have in receiving a dose of vaccine.
Health Care workers and residents of Senior living facilities have top priority, but many are wondering who should come next in line.
While a federal advisory board is expected to make its recommendations before the new year, state health departments and governors will make the decisions on who gets access to the limited number of vaccines in these first few months.
As a result, it’s been a free-for-all in recent weeks as farm-workers, flight attendants, firefighters, manufacturers, grocers, bank tellers, dentists and drive-share companies all lobby for a spot near the first of the line.
While the CDC voted 13-1 to give top priority to health care workers and senior living centers and their staffs, because of limited doses early on, tough decisions lie ahead on who should come next, such as “is it more important to prioritize teachers who come into contact with many people each day, or farmworkers, who can’t work remotely and provide the country’s food?”
“We have to be mindful of equity issues, comorbidities and the likelihood of death versus survival, even within these essential workers,” said Mitch Steiger, an advocate for the California Labor Federation, adding that there will be “a lot of really tough conversations and a lot of different competing principles.”
There are already differences emerging in how different states will prioritize.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that after nursing home residents and health care workers are vaccinated, they will try to vaccinate people aged 65 and over and significantly ill residents.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that after health care workers and nursing home residents and staffs, teachers, first responders and adults with illnesses should be next in line, and Pennsylvania says it will prioritize “critical workers” and high-risk individuals.