Who Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First? CDC to Hold Meeting Tuesday

A panel of top U.S. health advisers and scientists will meet this coming week to determine who—health workers, people over 65, or those with specific medical conditions—should receive the coronavirus vaccine among scarce initial supplies.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are set to vote Tuesday on which group of people should be the very first to get newly approved COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices scheduled the emergency meeting to establish who they think would help curb the spread of the virus while also considering which parts of the population will benefit the most by receiving the vaccine sooner rather than later.

Pfizer and BioNTech both submitted applications last Friday seeking emergency use authorization of their vaccine. Both companies have said the vaccine, called BNT162b2, has an efficacy rate of 95 percent in late-stage clinical trials.

Draft recommendations from advisers have suggested several different sects of the population among the list of top initial recipients, a group labeled as the "1a vaccine allocation group." Health care workers and people who are most likely to spread and develop severe disease from contracting the virus are also among top contenders. Additionally, nursing home residents may be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations once they are authorized for emergency use in the coming weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency responsible with issuing the emergency authorization for the vaccines. Moderna Inc. is the third pharmaceutical giant expected to seek emergency use of its vaccine in the coming weeks, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

The FDA's scientific advisers are set to hold a public meeting on December 10 to review Pfizer's authorization request and send recommendations on to the agency.

U.S. health authorities have identified more than 13 million COVID-19 cases present throughout the country since January, according to the latest CDC data. There have been 264,866 deaths tied to the coronavirus over the course of 2020. Currently, New York, Texas and California lead the country in the most amount of deadly cases of COVID-19.

Complex systems of distribution are being set up across the U.S., with companies like United Airlines establishing charter flights which would send out doses of COVID-19 vaccines, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Distribution plans have also been extended over to Europe, where separate emergency use authorization would be required from health regulators. Refrigerated storage sites have made room in Europe and the U.S., as preparations continue to be made in expectation of the emergency use authorization.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC and the FDA for additional information Saturday morning.

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
A COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech is one of several that could soon be available to the public following promising clinical trial data, although experts are urging the public to be prepared to experience temporary, but potentially severe, side effects after being vaccinated. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty