A panel of U.S. advisers is meeting Tuesday to decide on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved.
The consensus among many experts in the U.S. and globally is that health care workers should be first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.
Watch the meeting live at 2 p.m. in the video player above.
The Food and Drug Administration is set to debate this month whether to allow emergency use of two different COVID-19 vaccine candidates by Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines require two doses, about a month or so apart.
Vaccination for the general population isn’t expected to happen until next year, but states are gearing up to make sure there’s seamless tracking of who needs to return for a second shot.
“So they need to know how many people have received their first dose that they can make sure they’ve allocated appropriate vaccines for second doses. And then at the national level, CDC needs to sort of see across the board what is uptake look like across the US, how many people are being vaccinated each day,” said Rebecca Coyle, executive director of the American Immunization Registry Association, which helps states coordinate their immunization registries.
Such state registries already keep track of children’s and adults’ immunizations so sharing information about who got the COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be difficult. But Coyle said nursing homes, smaller pharmacies and other locations don’t have the same experience.
“There’s a lot of nontraditional providers like nursing homes and smaller pharmacies that haven’t necessarily exchanged data with registries before,” she said.
Manufacturers already have begun stockpiling coronavirus vaccine doses in anticipation of eventual approval, but the first shots will be in short supply and rationed.
“We have a very active pandemic with a lot of disease and helping to make sure that we take the very best care of that vaccine is critical. So the perfect example is that you’re going to have multiple products out there, different types of vaccines that are not interchangeable. And it’s going to be on us to make sure that a person only receives the type of product that they need to receive,” Coyle said.