US Covid-19 vaccine: Where am I in line for the coronavirus shot?

More than 33.9m doses of the vaccine have been administered, as of 3 February

Danielle Zoellner
New York
@dani__zoellner
Thursday 04 February 2021 20:33
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Joe Biden vowes to move 'heaven and earth' to get 100 million vaccines administered in his first 100 days of office

A mass vaccination campaign is underweigh in the United States to get the vast majority of the public inoculated with Covid-19 jabs.

Currently there are two vaccines that have recieved emergency use authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Pfizer and Moderna. But other companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, would likely seek authorisation in the coming weeks.

Already the country has administered more than 33.9 million doses of the vaccine as of 3 February, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracker.

A majority of these vaccines have gone to healthcare workers and staff members, who make up about 21 million people, and the three million Americans living in long-term care facilities. Those two groups were listed as Phase 1a by the CDC, making them the top priority group.

Now the CDC has recommended for states to vaccinate people ages 65 years and older, but the health agency left it largely up to local governments on making their own eligibilty requirments.

So where are you in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine? 

The New York Times created an interactive infographic, using current vaccine guidelines, to show in what order the US population will receive the jab once it becomes available.  

First, the infographic, developed using the vaccine tool from the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs, asks people to give their age, county, profession, and if they have any health risks. Then it determines where one might be in line to receive the vaccine.

Healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities have been offered the vaccine first in states across the country, which follows recommendations put forward by the The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

This is because healthcare workers are on the frontlines taking care of those with the virus, and those in long-term care facilities are most at risk develop life-threatening complications from Covid-19. So if you fall into this category and have yet to receive a vaccine, you can likely make an appointment in your individual state to get one.

Next phase in most states involve other first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, who are unable to perform their job role at home. Teachers and other essential workers have also been prioritised.

Then the millions of Americans with health risks that could be further exacerbated if they were to contract Covid-19 – such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic conditions – would follow.

If you do not land in any of these above categories, then you are behind an estimated 118.5 million Americans to receive the vaccine.

Following those with health risks will likely be the rest of the elderly population, other essential workers who are unable to perform their job at home, the homeless, and those in prisons.

Prisoners should be high on the list to receive the coronavirus vaccine, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), because prisons became Covid-19 hotspots during the pandemic. These hotspots formed for a variety of reasons, including locations being overcrowded with inmates and the facilities utilising shared areas like cells and bathrooms – resulting in the fast spread of the virus once it entered a prison.

The AMA said incarcerated people should "be prioritised in receiving access to safe, effective Covid-19 vaccines in the initial phases of distribution." But that move, depending on the individual state, could face political backlash.

Young adults could be next in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine behind an estimated 144 million Americans, according to The New York Times, and young children will then follow if the treatment is approved for their age group.

Reasoning behind vaccinating young adults ahead of other groups is because those aged 18 to 30 are more likely to spread the novel virus by displaying little to no symptoms. Also the vaccination would allow for those in school environments to return to a more normal education setting.

The rest of essential workers could follow behind young adults, but it would be essential workers who are able to perform a majority of their tasks from home instead of in a work environment.

Then the rest of the population, which largely involves healthy and younger adults, will be the last in line to receive the vaccine.

Keep in mind, the vaccine distribution remains fluid and alters weekly state by states. Due to recent rollout issues, states could turn to age over profession to give out the vaccine in order to simplify the process. This would alter when someone would receive the vaccine compared to earlier predictions.

But most Americans will not have the opportunity to receive a coronavirus vaccine until the late spring 2021 or in the summer months, depending on if other pharmaceutical companies receive emergency use authorisation from the FDA. The success of manufacturing and distributing the vaccines will also play a part in determining how swiftly the vast majority of the American public will have access to the jab. 

President Joe Biden announced in January that his administration purchased an additional 200 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna, which would be available by the summer months. Based on the estimated stockpile, Mr Biden said at least 300 million Americans could be vaccinated by fall 2021.

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