In Utah teachers and child care workers were among the first people to receive coronavirus vaccines, along with health care workers and long-term care residents. In neighboring states, teachers and child care workers may have to wait several months to get vaccinated.
Before the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency-use authorization to the two vaccine candidates, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend that health-care workers and long-term-care facility residents get vaccinated first.
Next in line, according to the committee’s recommendations, should be people over the age of 75, and non-health care essential workers including first responders, grocery store workers, teachers and transportation workers.
“The recommendations were made with these goals in mind: decrease death and serious disease as much as possible; preserve functioning of society; [and] reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities,” the CDC notes.
States aren’t required to follow the committee’s recommendations, but health experts are urging governors to stick to ACIP’s recommendations going forward because it gives them a science-based framework to follow that can ultimately help end the pandemic more swiftly.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia are vaccinating health care workers and long-term care residents first, as recommended by ACIP. But at least 16 states are allowing other groups to get vaccinated simultaneously, according to an analysis published Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health-care think tank.
Law enforcement officers and firefighters in 10 states — Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming — are included in the first tier vaccination group.
Meanwhile, Tennessee is including people who cannot live independently and people over the age of 75 in its first-tier priority group. In Massachusetts and New Jersey, people who are incarcerated are receiving priority access.
Only 14 states are sticking to ACIP’s recommendations for who should be included in the second tier priority group for vaccinations, the KFF analysis found. Most states have included adults above 65 in this group.
“In some cases, states are broadening and simplifying the priority groups, the report states. “But, in other cases, states are creating new and more complex priority groupings.”
That could “lead to greater difficulty in implementing vaccine distribution plans and make it harder to communicate those plans to the public,” the report concluded.