Medical workers are the ones most at risk of infection because of their constant exposure to hospitals and sick people. They, along with the immunocompromised and other people susceptible to contracting the disease must be prioritized in Covid-19 vaccine distribution, say experts in a report published Wednesday.
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security also suggested that the people in charge of manufacture and distribution should receive doses first.
Data from WHO states that there are 29 ongoing clinical trials for Coronavirus vaccines around the world. Four of these are from the United States. Health officials expect results from at least one of them before the end of the year and distribution should begin by 2021. Pharmaceutical firms that are working on the vaccines are already doing mass production with high hopes that trials will render positive results. However, the first batch will not be enough to cater to everyone.
It may be months before the general American population receives the vaccines since drawbacks such as a shortage of syringes could hold back the entire process.
The distribution plan is still under discussion by the CDC and National Academy of Medicine, while the Johns Hopkins team comprising of health experts, vaccine researchers, patient safety specialists, and biological ethicists want to provide intel to the discussion.
The team reiterates that they are “not providing a set of definitive recommendations about who should be prioritized for vaccination.” However, the candidate groups that they classified should be at least considered.
Candidates under the groups will also be ranked according to priority because it is also likely that not everyone in the first tier of recipients will be given vaccination all at once.
Included in the top tier of vaccine recipients are the frontline workers, both in the medical field and the society in general - the pillars of the basic societal functions like those working in public transport systems, food production and distribution companies, and teachers. The susceptible people living with severe or chronic illnesses along with their care providers are also part of the first tier, although they lean more towards the caregivers because of the risk of a delayed immune response from those already with underlying diseases.
Non-frontline health workers are next in line as part of the second tier - those are not directly interacting with patients - along with other utility workers, delivery personnel, military, and police workforce.
Though vaccination is not exactly the ultimate solution, it will be of significant contribution to the prevention of the further rise of new cases that might bring down Covid-19 from pandemic to an endemic level, according to the report.
Other factors affecting distribution will eventually come into play. The vaccine may be available to the public either for free or at a low cost, but expenses such as transport to secluded areas, information dissemination and awareness require more funding and innovation to be carried out with ease.
The government must be able to properly delegate these tasks while applying reasonable and justifiable policies. Public perception must be taken care of and the people must never lose their faith that vaccines are beneficial, albeit all other conspiracy theories that are being made discouraging its use.