An advisory panel on Sunday voted to recommend that people 75 and older, and essential workers like firefighters, teachers, and grocery store workers should be the next in line to receive the vaccine for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus.
Approximately 556,000 Americans have already received the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CCP virus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech was the first to be distributed. A vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. began shipping on Dec. 20.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) earlier this month recommended that health care workers and nursing home residents—approximately 24 million people—should be the first to get the vaccine. There are roughly 20 million Americans who are 75 and over, and some 30 million essential workers. Essential workers include firefighters, police, teachers, workers in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, public transit employees, and grocery store workers.
People aged 65 to 74 should follow, ACIP voted, in addition to those aged 16 to 64 with medical conditions that place them at higher risk if they get the virus. The two groups are comprised of some 110 million people. The third wave also includes a tier of other essential works including food service and utility workers, and also those in legal and financial jobs and the media.
The CDC director is expected to sign off on the recommendations soon. Regardless of the federal guidance, states still have discretion over who to prioritize for the distribution.
Some 100 million people are expected to take the vaccine by the end of February 2021.
CDC officials say up to 20 million people are projected to start getting shots this month, another 30 million next month, and 50 million in February—about 30 percent of the U.S. population.
The CCP virus has claimed more than 316,000 lives in the United States.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to receive the vaccine on Monday. He will follow a number of other politicians who took the shot: Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
There won’t be enough shots for the general population until spring, so doses will be rationed at least for the next several months.
President Donald Trump’s surgeon general Jerome Adams defended the administration’s handling of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, a day after the Army general in charge of getting the CCP virus vaccines across the U.S. apologized for “miscommunication” with the states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.