- Healthcare workers started receiving the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna earlier this month.
- While the CDC recommends that frontline essential workers and individuals over 75 get vaccinated next, Florida and Texas are doing things differently.
- Florida is prioritizing individuals over the age of 70 while Texas is giving priority to any individuals over 65 and people with serious medical conditions.
- That means more people in Texas and Florida have access to coronavirus vaccines now, as opposed to having to wait in line.
After months of painstaking research and development, coronavirus vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna were granted emergency use authorizations from the FDA earlier this month. The vaccines are incredibly promising and were shown to be around 95% effective at preventing a COVID-19 infection during Phase 3 clinical trials. What’s more, side effects are rare and when they do manifest, they’re typically minor and go away within 24 hours.
Manufacturing enough vaccine doses to vaccinate everyone in the U.S., however, is going to take some time. As a result, the CDC issued a recommendation that prioritizes healthcare workers first, residents of long-term care facilities next, followed by frontline essential workers such as first responders and teachers, and anyone over the age of 75.
The CDC’s recommendation, however, is just that — a recommendation. In other words, states can administer the vaccine however they see fit. And while all states are naturally vaccinating healthcare workers first, two states decided to deviate from the CDC’s guidelines with respect to who should receive the vaccine next.
Once all healthcare workers receive the vaccine, Texas is prioritizing individuals over the age of 65 and people of any age who happen to have a serious medical condition like diabetes or obesity.
In a statement explaining its decision, the Texas Department of State Health Services noted: “More than 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Texas have occurred in people 65 and older, and scientific evidence shows that adults of any age with certain medical conditions have an increased risk of hospitalization and death if they get sick with Covid-19.”
Consequently, Texas believes that its strategy will protect people who are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Another state planning to deviate from the CDC’s advice is Florida. On account of the state’s sizeable elderly population, Florida will not be vaccinating frontline essential workers next. Rather, Florida will be providing the vaccine to anyone over the age of 70.
Notably, both Florida and Texas’ decisions haven’t come under fire, if only because there’s no right answer when it comes to who should get vaccinated first. If anything, some people have criticized the CDC’s guidance to the extent that a young and healthy 25-year-old teacher (who would be classified as a frontline essential worker) shouldn’t get vaccinated before a 72-year old.
“The problem is people that are 73, 74 would be in the back of the line for a young 21-year-old worker who’s considered ‘essential,'” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said recently. “That doesn’t, I think, make sense.”
To date, upwards of 2 million Americans have already received the vaccine. To achieve herd immunity, Dr. Fauci has said that approximately 80% of Americans will need to get the vaccine. If all goes according to plan, Fauci believes that we might be able to put the pandemic behind us by June of 2021.