CDC panel recommends older Americans and frontline workers be next in line for COVID-19 vaccine

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The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination to be administered in New Jersey is prepared at University Hospital, in Newark, NJ, Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Kirsten Luce/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

A Centers for Disease Control advisory panel recommended Sunday the next group of Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should be Americans 75 and older and frontline workers — including police, firefighters, teachers and grocery workers.

The first people receiving the vaccine, known as Phase 1A, are healthcare professionals and long-term residents of health care facilities, like nursing homes. The CDC panel recommended Phase 1B should include Americans 75 and older and frontline workers, and 1C should cover Americans aged 65-74 and people 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and other essential workers, Kristen Nordlund of the CDC confirmed to CBS News on Sunday.

The CDC defines frontline essential workers as “workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.” This group includes first responders, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, those who work in education, public transit workers, grocery store workers, and those who work in manufacturing, food and agriculture. Roughly 30 million Americans fall into this group, according to the CDC.

Other essential workers — who would fall into Phase 1C if the CDC panel’s recommendations are followed — include those who work in food service, transportation and logistics, finance, energy, media, construction, IT and communications, public safety and the legal sector. This group comprises around 57 million people.

The first Americans began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on December 14. The CDC said on Sunday that more than 500,000 doses have been administered of the nearly 3 million doses of the vaccine that were distributed. The doses distributed and administered so far are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a second vaccine, this one manufactured by Moderna, for distribution, with the initial batches of the vaccine ready Sunday to be shipped out.

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Sunday the state, which was the hardest hit at the beginning of the pandemic, had received all the batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that it expects to receive. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned last week that the vaccine is the “light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel.”

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