WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A 14-member advisory panel voted Tuesday on who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first.
Dr. Kathleen Dooling, a member of the committee advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the first doses will go to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents.
“Essential workers that do not work in health care in phase 1B, and adults with high-risk medical conditions and adults who are 65 and older in phase 1C,” advised Dooling.
The decision comes days before U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisors are scheduled to discuss the emergency approval of the vaccines made by Pfizer, Biontech and Moderna.
Dr. Sarah Oliver, another advisor, says the plan is to start distributing the shots within 24 hours of that approval.
“We expect a constrained supply environment for some months and need to make the best use of available vaccine,” Oliver said.
Ultimately states decide who gets the vaccine first, but the vote will help governors make those choices and start setting up the process for administering shots.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says 40 million doses of the vaccine will be available by the end of the year—enough to vaccinate 20 million Americans.
“They won’t be available all at the same time, however. We anticipate 5 to 10 million doses per week post authorization,” explained Oliver.
The CDC says states have until Friday to submit their orders for vaccines. That gives federal officials time to evaluate their plans ahead of the expected FDA approval on Dec. 10.