People queue to receive COVID-19 test in New York, the United States, Nov. 27, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, according to a panel meeting of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside group of medical experts that advises the CDC, met virtually to decide which groups would be first in line to get the COVID-19 vaccines.
They voted 13 to 1 to recommend that both health care workers and residents of long term care facilities be first in line for any COVID-19 vaccines that get Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A health worker takes a COVID-19 PCR nasal swab sample from a man at a COVID-19 testing site in Washington, D.C., the United States, Nov. 13, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)
Long term care facility residents account for 6 percent of COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, CNN quoted the CDC as saying.
More than 240,000 health care workers have been infected with COVID-19 and 858 have died, according to the CDC.
The meeting came a day after American drugmaker Moderna submitted an application to the FDA for EUA of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273.
Another vaccine candidate from American company Pfizer and German drugmaker BioNtech, applied for EUA on Nov. 20.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Monday the first two COVID-19 vaccines could be available to Americans before Christmas.
He said Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be authorized and shipped within days after a meeting of FDA outside advisers scheduled for Dec. 10, who would review trial data and recommend whether to warrant approval. Moderna's vaccine candidate is expected to be reviewed a week later.
The U.S. federal government will ship the vaccines through its normal vaccine distribution system, with state governors determining where they should go first, according to Azar.