The US government, facing a relentless increase in coronavirus cases, this week released recommendations for who in the country should be vaccinated first. Here are the answers to some common questions.
Who is now eligible to be vaccinated, according to federal guidelines?
Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II urged all states on Tuesday to open up eligibility to all people 65 years of age and older and adults of all ages with health conditions that put them at high risk become seriously ill or die from Covid-19.
In all, it’s over 150 million people – almost half the population. They are now joining millions of healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities who were previously skilled.
Mr. Azar did not specify what conditions would make a person eligible for vaccination now; it will likely be up to the governors to decide, as will the question of what documents to require. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of particularly high-risk conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
How does eligibility vary from state to state and why?
Although the CDC issued recommendations last month that states in clusters should be vaccinated initially while vaccine supply is still relatively low, the priorities are not binding and each state has developed its own clusters.
The federal government cannot demand that states change the prioritization plans they have already announced, although new pressure from Mr Azar, as well as growing public impatience as deaths from the virus continue. to reach new heights, can inspire many to do so.
In proposing priority groups, state officials looked at criteria such as who is most likely to die if they contract Covid-19 – including people of color, the elderly, and those with disabilities. underlying health – and what professions are essential to helping the economy fully reopen. The demographics of each state also played a role.
I qualify now. How do I register?
It depends on the state or even the county in which you live.
Some local public health departments have set up portals where people can make appointments. Others organize mass vaccination events and inoculate people on a first come, first served basis.
Typically, doctors’ offices and pharmacies have instructed patients and clients not to call them for vaccine appointments at this time and instead wait to be contacted.
Most pharmacies do not offer the vaccine yet, but CVS, Walgreens and a number of other drugstore chains, including some in grocery stores and big box stores, will soon begin to do so thanks to a partnership with the government. federal.
What about essential workers whose jobs require them to come face to face with other people? Are they also eligible now?
In some states, yes.
Health workers in all states were the first to be offered the vaccine. And before Mr Azar’s directive this week, several states had already opened up vaccination to certain categories of essential “front-line” workers, such as police, firefighters, teachers, educators and public transport workers.
But other states that had planned to start offering the vaccine to some essential workers soon. may re-prioritize now based on new guidance from Mr Azar.
Nothing prevents states from opening vaccination to a new priority group before they have reached everyone in a previous group, but supply is an important consideration.
How many doses of vaccine does the United States have access to?
Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies whose vaccines have been approved for emergency use in the United States, have jointly pledged to deliver 400 million doses over the next seven months.
Both vaccines require two doses, which will be enough for 200 million people, of the approximately 260 million who are currently eligible for vaccination. Children under 16 are not yet eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and children under 18 cannot yet take Moderna.
Johnson & Johnson, whose single-dose vaccine candidate is in advanced clinical trials, has contracted with the US government to deliver 12 million doses by the end of February and a total of 100 million doses of here at the end of June. But the company has fallen behind on its production schedule.
How many people have been vaccinated so far?
The publicly available data is at least a few days late, so it’s hard to know for sure. But the CDC reported on Wednesday that about 10.3 million people had received an initial dose, out of 29.4 million doses distributed to date in the country.
This includes nearly 1.1 million doses that have been administered to residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.