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Draft COVID-19 vaccine plan: Frontline workers, elderly and teachers are priority

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Posted at 3:45 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 19:45:06-04

A US advisory panel has released their recommendations on how a future COVID-19 vaccine should be distributed, and is now seeking public comments on their draft plan.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine published their discussion draft Tuesday afternoon on their website. It is meant to “assist policymakers in planning for equitable allocation of a vaccine against COVID-19.”

The draft plan has a four-phased approach to handle the intense demand for and limited supply of the vaccine when it is first developed.

“While major efforts are being made to have a significant supply of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, the committee has been tasked with considering the tough choices that will need to be made for allocating the tightly constrained initial supplies,” said committee co-chair Helene Gayle, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust

The plan states in the first phase “would be ‘frontline’ health workers—health professionals who are involved in direct patient care, as well as those in transport, environmental services staff, or other health care facility services, who risk exposure to bodily fluids or aerosols. Under conditions of such scarcity, access should not be defined by professional title, but rather by the individual’s actual risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

Their plan also gives higher priority to older Americans living in group settings. They cite data showing about 80 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the US occurred in people over the age of 65, and a significant proportion of them were people living in long-term care facilities.

“Recognizing the importance of education and child development,” tier 2 includes teachers and school staff, as well as those with pre-existing conditions that put them at a heightened risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and those living in group housing situations not included in tier 1.

The group states that by the time there is enough of the vaccine to reach tier 4, “ideally, these individuals would be willing to participate in an egalitarian process (such as a lottery) if there are persistent local or regional shortages in this phase.”

The group that developed this draft was formed in July at the request of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are pleased to help inform the government’s decision-making process and provide our expert advice for priority-setting for the equitable allocation of potential COVID-19 vaccines,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Input from the public on this draft framework, especially from communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, is essential to produce a final report that is objective, balanced, and inclusive.”

The public comment period will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 4. Commenters will be able to download and review the draft before submitting a comment at nationalacademies.org/VaccineAllocationComment.

A final recommendation will be published this fall to include any changes following public comment.