- Healthcare workers started receiving the first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine earlier this month.
- The CDC recommends that essential workers and adults over the age of 75 should get the vaccine next.
- Texas, however, is prioritizing adults over the age of 65 and anyone over the age of 16 who happens to have a serious medical condition.
It’s no secret that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. is going to take some time. Aside from the fact that vaccine quantities are limited to begin with, the vaccine schedule requires two doses of the vaccine to be administered, which is to say a supply of even 20 million doses is only enough to vaccinate 10 million people.
Naturally, healthcare workers are being given the coronavirus vaccine before anyone else, an approach that aligns with a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group that falls under the umbrella of the CDC.
Once healthcare workers receive the vaccine, ACIP recommends that residents of long-term care facilities get inoculated next. And following that, ACIP recommends that the vaccine be offered to frontline essential workers (non-healthcare workers like teachers and firefighters) and anyone over the age of 75.
The guidelines above, however, are not binding and states can choose to deviate from the recommended course of action if they want. From what we’ve seen so far, all states have been following the rollout schedule above, except, of course, for Texas.
With respect to vaccine administration, Texas is prioritizing people above the age of 65 over frontline essential workers. Further, Texans above the age of 16 who have existing comorbidities that put them at a greater risk for experiencing severe coronavirus symptoms are also being prioritized.
Some of the medical conditions that will warrant someone receiving the vaccine right away include cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, obesity, and diabetes.
The Texas Department of State Health Services issued the following statement earlier this week:
The state of Texas will prioritize people who are at the greatest risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 for the next phase of vaccination. 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.
“The focus on people who are age 65 and older or who have comorbidities will protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Imelda Garcia, EVAP chair and DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services. “This approach ensures that Texans at the most severe risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnicities and regardless of where they work.”
The unfortunate reality is that there’s no right solution to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. After all, how does one weigh giving the vaccine to a frontline worker like a teacher versus a 45-year-old with kidney disease? It’s truly a debate with no right answer.
Going forward, it hopefully won’t be too long before the supply of vaccine doses is big enough to warrant the debate above moot. In a best-case scenario, Dr. Fauci believes that healthy Americans will have access to coronavirus vaccines by late March or early April.