CDC Panel Says Frontline Workers and People Over 74 Should Get Vaccine Next
A committee working group suggested that in addition to teachers, firefighters, and the police force, “frontline workers” should include school support staff, day care workers, correctional staff, public transportation, grocery and postal workers, and food production and manufacturing workers.
However, the group’s formal recommendation is not that specific. The body, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, stressed that its recommendations are non-binding and that each state should tailor them to the specific needs of its population.
The 13-to-1 vote came as frustrations increased over the pace of vaccine distribution at the national level. This weekend, General Gustave F. Perna, who leads the Trump administration’s sales efforts, apologized for last minute states’ knowledge that they would receive fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week than they expected. Tensions have also risen in some states over local decisions about which health care workers should be shot immediately and which – including hospital administrators who don’t see patients, some of whom were vaccinated last week – should wait.
When the committee signaled last month that important workers should be in front of adults aged 65 and over, many members supported this view and expressed alarm that these workers, who are often low-wage blacks, were disproportionately affected by the virus and were additionally disadvantaged because of their limited access to good health care.
Answers to your vaccine questions
With a coronavirus vaccine spreading out of the US, here are answers to some questions you may be wondering about:
- If I live in the US, when can I get the vaccine? While the exact order of vaccine recipients may vary from state to state, most doctors and residents of long-term care facilities will come first. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help.
- When can I get back to normal life after the vaccination? Life will only get back to normal once society as a whole receives adequate protection against the coronavirus. Once countries have approved a vaccine, they can only vaccinate a few percent of their citizens in the first few months. The unvaccinated majority remain susceptible to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show robust protection against disease. However, it is also possible that people spread the virus without knowing they are infected because they have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Scientists don’t yet know whether the vaccines will also block the transmission of the coronavirus. Even vaccinated people have to wear masks for the time being, avoid the crowds indoors and so on. Once enough people are vaccinated, it becomes very difficult for the coronavirus to find people at risk to become infected. Depending on how quickly we as a society achieve this goal, life could approach a normal state in autumn 2021.
- Do I still have to wear a mask after the vaccination? Yeah, but not forever. Here’s why. The coronavirus vaccines are injected deep into the muscles and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This seems to be sufficient protection to protect the vaccinated person from disease. What is not clear, however, is whether it is possible for the virus to bloom in the nose – and sneeze or exhale to infect others – even if antibodies have been mobilized elsewhere in the body to prevent that vaccinated person gets sick. The vaccine clinical trials were designed to determine if people who were vaccinated are protected from disease – not to find out if they can still spread the coronavirus. Based on studies of flu vaccines and even patients infected with Covid-19, researchers have reason to hope that people who are vaccinated will not spread the virus, but more research is needed. In the meantime, everyone – including those who have been vaccinated – must imagine themselves as possible silent shakers and continue to wear a mask. Read more here.
- Will it hurt What are the side effects? The vaccine against Pfizer and BioNTech, like other typical vaccines, is delivered as a shot in the arm. The injection in your arm feels no different than any other vaccine, but the rate of short-lived side effects seems to be higher than with the flu shot. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and none of them have reported serious health problems. The side effects, which can be similar to symptoms of Covid-19, last about a day and are more likely to occur after the second dose. Early reports from vaccine trials suggest that some people may need to take a day off because they feel lousy after receiving the second dose. In the Pfizer study, around half developed fatigue. Other side effects occurred in at least 25 to 33 percent of patients, sometimes more, including headache, chills, and muscle pain. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign that your own immune system is having a strong response to the vaccine that provides lasting immunity.
- Will mRNA vaccines change my genes? No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to boost the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is eventually destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slide inside. The cell uses the mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus that can stimulate the immune system. At any given moment, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules that they produce to make their own proteins. As soon as these proteins are made, our cells use special enzymes to break down the mRNA. The mRNA molecules that our cells make can only survive a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is engineered to withstand the cell’s enzymes a little longer, so the cells can make extra viral proteins and trigger a stronger immune response. However, the mRNA can hold for a few days at most before it is destroyed.
When this proposal emerged, the public reaction was often harsh as many believed that the elderly deserve protection first as they too die at disproportionately high rates and overwhelming health facilities.
In addition, the committee faced a barrage of allegations, often malicious, that it gave priority to other racial groups over whites.
In a strongly worded statement before the panel’s vote on Sunday, its chairman, Dr. Romero, back. “Our attempt has always been to achieve a just, ethical and fair distribution of this resource. We never selected any particular ethnic or racial group to receive the vaccine, ”he said.