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Here’s who will likely get a coronavirus vaccine first in the US

Published Sep 1st, 2020 9:10PM EDT
Coronavirus vaccine
Image: M.Rode-Foto/Adobe
  • Scientists and academic advisors have laid out a plan for distributing the coronavirus vaccine once a safe and effective drug has been made available to the public.
  • The plan features four phases, with the first phase including high-risk health care workers as well as people with underlying conditions that put them at risk.
  • Most healthy individuals won’t get the vaccine until the second or third phase.

Sooner or later, a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will roll out and the worst of this pandemic might finally be behind us. Of course, once the FDA has determined that a vaccine is safe and effective, the logistics of distributing hundreds of millions of doses comes into play, which is nearly as daunting as creating a vaccine in the first place.

Many of us simply want to know when we’ll have access to a coronavirus vaccine, and on Tuesday, the scientists and academics advising the federal government on the allocation of a vaccine released a draft of a preliminary framework. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, high-risk health care workers should be the first group to get their hands on the vaccine in the earliest of four planned phases.

“Front-line health care workers are particularly important in stemming the pandemic and preventing death and severe illness,” the report explained. “Vaccinating these individuals not only enables them to provide these services, but also reduces the risk that they will spread the infection as they work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care, and group homes, or return to their own homes.”

Once health care workers have been widely vaccinated, the next phase will include essential workers at high risk of exposure, teachers and school staff, people with underlying conditions, people in homeless shelters or group homes, people in jail or prisons, and any older adults that weren’t included in the first phase.


A phased approach to vaccine allocation for COVID-19. Image source: NAP

Phase 3 is when young adults, children, and essential workers that aren’t at high risk of exposure will be inoculated. If you were not included in any of the first three phases, “everyone residing in the United States who did not receive the vaccine in the previous phases” will have a chance to get the vaccine in the fourth phase.

It’s worth noting that this is just a draft, and while these plans might sound reasonable, they have yet to be finalized. In fact, before the committee submits its final report this fall, it will be accepting public comments on the draft on its website and allowing anyone who is interested in seeing what the draft says to download it. If you have suggestions or want to contribute in a meaningful way, you have until September 4th to do so.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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