Who is likely to be offered COVID-19 vaccine first when it becomes available?

The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be available sometime in December, and decisions about who gets it first will be guided by current immunization guidelines.

“The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has the advisory committee on immunization practices and other groups that weigh in on how vaccines should be distributed, especially in cases of scarce allocation,” said Patrick Ashley, D.C. Health’s senior deputy director of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response.

“It’s really a conversation about the greatest good for the greatest number of people based on a number of different factors related to exposure and comorbidities,” Ashley said, while briefing the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board about vaccines last Thursday.

There are four phases that have been developed for vaccine distribution:

  • Phase One-A includes high-risk health care workers in hospitals, for example, and first responders, such as police officers, firefighters and EMS workers.
  • Phase One-B would then include seniors living in congregate care facilities and people with multiple health concerns or existing health conditions.
  • Phase Two includes vaccinations for critical infrastructure workers, older adults and educators.

And with a timeline expected sometime in spring:

  • Phase Three includes children, young adults and infrastructure workers not previously covered.
  • Phase Four then would include everyone else.

Localities are permitted to make adjustments specific to their needs and Maryland and Virginia, for example, have submitted draft plans for CDC review.

Where people will get vaccinated may vary by jurisdiction.

“A lot of the jurisdictions are choosing a variety of different options,” Ashley said. “An individual in some jurisdictions may go to a pharmacy, some may go to their health care provider and some might go to a local recreation center, where the government is operating those vaccination centers.”

No one is expected to have to pay out-of-pocket to get vaccinated.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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