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COVID-19 vaccines are coming soon, but you could be last in line. This is who gets one first


Coronavirus vaccines are just around the corner, but most people probably won’t be able to get them until well into 2021.

Robert Rodriguez / CNET

Visit the WHO website for the most current news and information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus vaccines will arrive soonbut in the beginning there will not be enough for everyone. There are more than 330 million people in the US, but Pfizer, whose vaccine is expected to be the first to receive Food and Drug Administration approval in the coming weeks, says it will produce enough to produce about 12 by the end of 2020. Vaccinate 5 million Americans. , or about 3.7% of the US population.

Other vaccines, such as the one of Moderna that uses similar technology to Pfizer’s could also be approved in the coming weeks or months, which will increase overall inventory. Regardless, most people in the US will have to wait at least several months for those who want a vaccine to get one, and it could take years to vaccinate everyone in the world.

The question then becomes: who will receive those first doses of vaccines and how long should you wait to get vaccinated? There are no definitive answers so far. Much depends on who needs vaccination against COVID-19 the most: older adults, people with underlying conditions, and so on. But another factor will be how the different vaccines themselves actually work. For example, some single dose vaccines are better suited to serve one group, such as rural populations. Other groups – city dwellers, so to speak – might just as well be protected by vaccines requiring subsequent “booster doses.”


Even after coronavirus vaccines are approved, people will have to continue to wear masks and take other preventive measures for the coming months.

Angela Lang / CNET

We won’t be sure who will be first in line to get a coronavirus vaccine until one or more are approved, but we can look at the information available to get an idea. Many of the agencies involved in drafting and implementing those guidelines have already begun to explain how they intend to make those decisions when the time comes.

We scoured reports from agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compile a rough outline of who the experts say are the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and why. This article is periodically updated and is intended as a general overview and not a source of medical advice. If you are looking for more information about coronavirus testing, here’s how to find a testing site near you.

When will the first COVID-19 vaccines arrive? Will there be more than one?

Short answer: The first vaccine is expected soon, and it looks like there will be more than one safe, effective type. Pfizer, which says its candidate vaccine is 95% effective in preventing coronavirus infections, is expected to be the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive Food and Drug Administration authorization in the coming weeks and before the end of years to deliver doses.

Moderna is not far behind and is expected to release efficacy results in the coming days. It could have FDA approval by December. Vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are at a late stage, while a fifth manufacturer, Novavax, will begin final testing for its vaccine sometime later this month.


Life probably won’t return to normal until the end of 2021 or at the earliest 2022, which could mean checking the temperature regularly until the coronavirus is no longer a threat.

Angela Lang / CNET

The general consensus was – and still is – that the first COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be approved in the US soon, but won’t be widespread until the end of 2021. Until then, deliveries are expected. remain limited, which is partly why we need multiple vaccines to treat as many people as possible.

How soon after approval do the vaccinations start?

“[The government] has plans to distribute vaccines within 24 hours of the ACIP giving its final approval, ” Paul Mango, a Health and Human Services official, told reporters in October, referring to the CDC’s Advisory Commission on Immunization, the group which officially provides guidelines for who should receive vaccines after they are approved by the FDA.

Who will be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine?

Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical research and vaccine development, told Scientific American that Pfizer’s vaccine is on track to be distributed to frontline health professionals as well as people at high risk of serious illness once the drug is taken. is administered. authorized, probably around mid-December.

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Some vaccines require more than one dose to be effective.

Angela Lang / CNET

This is who the CDC has identified as the top four priority groups to receive the first COVID-19 doses.

Healthcare workers: Vaccinating approximately 20 million U.S. doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and other health care providers protects both the country’s first-line COVID-19 responders and the patients they care for.

Essential employees: About 87 million American workers provide the basic goods and services we need to survive. Most cannot work from home and many jobs require interaction with the public, so protecting against COVID-19 among this population would have a ripple effect across the country while reducing critical service interruptions.

People with underlying medical conditions: In particular, the approximately 100 million people with conditions that put them at high risk of illness or death from COVID-19. Any disease that affects the lungs as well as anything that can affect a person’s immune system, such as cancer or HIV.

Older adults: The risk of serious complications from COVID-19 increases with age. The CDC’s ACIP recommends that the approximately 53 million American adults ages 65 and older be among the first to be vaccinated.

What if I am not in one of those groups?

The reality is, you may just have to wait. The top infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Good Morning America in November that he expects “the common citizen” to be able to receive a vaccine in April, May or June 2021.


Normal life probably won’t resume for a while, which could mean you shouldn’t sit in waiting rooms until the coronavirus is no longer a threat.

Sarah Tew / CNET

When the vaccine arrives, how soon can I live a normal life again?

Infection rates in the US are skyrocketing, with the seven-day moving average now at nearly 140,000 new infections per day and rising. Europe is entering a second phase of lockdown amid its own spike in new cases. One of the chief advisers to the President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Task ForceDr. Michael Osterholm, has recommended a nationwide lockdown in the US for four to six weeks to help control the rapidly spreading virus. (President Donald Trump said on Nov. 13 that there would be no lockdown under his administration.) Meanwhile, the public school system in New York City is considering closing again.

In other words, we’re not out of the woods yet, especially as we get closer to winter, when deaths from coronavirus are expected to continue to soar. Experts agree that people who leave their homes should continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, maintain social distance and wash hands regularly until further notice.

Shouldn’t the priority go to the most vulnerable?

Before 2009, older adults and patients with underlying health conditions tended to top the list of those who should be the first to receive a new vaccine, because for them, getting sick could quickly lead to a death sentence. However, that reasoning began to shift after a 2009 paper in the journal Science suggested that health officials dealing with limited vaccine supplies could prevent many more people from getting sick and dying simply by vaccinating the ones most likely to be . to send a particular disease, rather than the ones at risk of becoming the sickest.


Unfortunately, coronavirus vaccines are not as easy as swallowing a few pills.

Sarah Tew / CNET

That document was specifically about H1N1 – the “swine flu” – and was about seasonal flu in general. In it, researchers identified the largest demographics of flu spreaders as children ages 5 to 19. That’s why the CDC now advises everyone 6 months and older to get an annual flu vaccine. In the case of COVID-19, experts have identified frontline health workers as the group most likely to catch the disease and therefore spread it, which is why they will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Whether COVID-19 vaccines are effective at stopping the spread of coronavirus depends a lot on how our bodies build up immunity to the disease. Here’s what we know so far about whether you can get COVID-19 more than once. Testing is also key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus – learn more about a device that can yield results in less than 90 minutes here. And learn how all these problems and more play a role Biden’s plan to fight COVID-19.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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