September 2, 2020 -- A preliminary report released Tuesday outlines which groups may receive priority when a coronavirus vaccine is available.

For “equitable allocation” of a vaccine, the report recommends giving higher priority to those who face the greatest risks. That includes a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, a higher risk of severe disease or death, a higher risk of transmitting the disease to others, or a higher risk of negative impact on others if they became sick. The final point doesn’t consider wealth, income or how easily someone could be replaced at work, according to the report.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created the committee in July to create a framework for priorities. They released the “discussion draft” Tuesday and will hold a five-hour public listening session on Wednesday afternoon.

First responders and high-risk workers in health care facilities face the highest risks and will receive a higher priority, according to the report. Older adults, especially those who live in group or overcrowded facilities, and people with underlying conditions that put them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 will receive priority.

“While major efforts are being made to have a significant supply of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, the committee has been tasked with considering the tough choices that will need to be made for allocating the tightly constrained initial supplies,” Helene Gayle, committee co-chair and president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, said in a statement.

The committee also recommends a four-phase approached to release the vaccine, which will be “incrementally phased in.” The first step is to distribute the vaccine to reduce severe illness and deaths. Availability will be increased as vaccine supplies increase. Teachers and school staff are included in Phase 2. Young adults and children are in Phase 3.

The committee focused on underlying causes to create priorities rather than race or ethnicity. Those who have frontline jobs, crowded living conditions, lack of access to personal protective equipment and the inability to work from home are the most at risk for contracting the coronavirus, the report said. Statistics show that people of color — specifically Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian and Alaska Native — have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, itself.

The public comment period is open until Friday at midnight, and people can submit comments online. The committee’s final report, which will include an updated allocation framework, is expected later this month, according to STAT.

“Input from the public on this draft framework, especially from communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, is essential to produce a final report that is objective, balanced and inclusive,” Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine, said in the statement.

Show Sources

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “A Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus.”

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “National Academies Release Draft Framework for Equitable Allocation of a COVID-19 Vaccine, Seek Public Comment.”

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “Public Listening Session: Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine.”

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine.”

STAT, “U.S. advisory group lays out detailed recommendations on how to prioritize Covid-19 vaccine.”

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