The process of rationing the first doses of the coronavirus vaccines is underway as a federal advisory group recommended Tuesday that when Florida and other states receive their first shipment it “should be offered to both healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.”
The guidelines were approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as the federal government prepares to distribute the first of an estimated 20 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The vaccines will be allocated based on state population and it is up to state officials to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated in the first round.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he expects the state to receive between 1 million and 2 million doses sometime in the middle of December. There are 497,000 licensed healthcare professionals in Florida and at least 368,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
But as more information emerges, the federal vaccine advisory group made it clear that it will take weeks to get all healthcare providers vaccinated and questions remain about how efficiently they can move to vaccinate the elderly.
With two doses needed per person, the first doses the state receives “will not be enough” to cover all of those people, said Mary Mayhew, chief executive officer of the Florida Hospital Association and former secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
“We are not going to have enough to vaccinate the vulnerable population, so the hospitals are prioritizing within their workforce,’’ she said. “Those who are more at risk in terms of their location within the hospital, the emergency departments, intensive care units and their age — if they’re over the age of 55 — will be given priority in this initial round, given the limited allocation.”
Moderna and Pfizer have submitted data from their vaccine clinical trials to the Food and Drug Administration for review. The FDA will meet on Dec. 10 to consider approval of the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use. Later in the month, it is expected to review Moderna’s submission.