Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 13-1 on Tuesday to recommend that both health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first in line for any coronavirus vaccines that get emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices voted to include both groups in what they’re calling Phase 1a of the CDC’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.
“Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently,” the CDC said.
“Health care personnel are defined as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure or infectious materials."
The CDC says long-term care facility residents account for 6% of coronavirus cases and 40% of coronavirus deaths in the US. More than 240,000 health care workers have been infected with coronavirus and 858 have died, the CDC says.
The single vote against the recommendation came from Dr. Helen Talbot of Vanderbilt University, who said she was worried that the vaccine had not been studied in residents of long-term care facilities.
“We hope it works and we hope it’s safe. That concerns me on many levels,” Talbot told the meeting.
But Dr. Jose Romero, who chairs ACIP, said he believed these residents are at exceptional risk.
“I believe my vote represents maximum benefit, minimum harm, promoting justice and mitigating … health inequalities,” Romero said after the vote.