NEW YORK (Reuters) - A panel of experts set up to advise the United States on how best to allocate COVID-19 vaccines said on Tuesday that high risk workers in healthcare facilities and first responders should get them first as part of a recommended four-phase rollout plan.
The first phase should also include vaccinating people with underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19, as well and older adults living in long-term care facilities or overcrowded settings, the panel recommended.
The second phase should include workers in industries essential to the functioning of society and at substantially high risk of exposure, teachers and school staff, people with underlying conditions that put them at moderately higher risk, older adults, people in homeless shelters or group homes and those in prisons and similar facilities, as well as staff who work there, the panel said.
A third phase would include providing the vaccine to young adults and children, as well as workers at increased risk of exposure not included in previous phases. The fourth phase would include everyone not vaccinated in the first 3 phases, the panel said.
The plan was suggested by a special committee of experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Academy of Medicine, an independent advisory body. The directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) charged the panel with devising the plan in late June.
The CDC and NIH are expected to take the recommendations into consideration when making decisions on how to distribute vaccines once they become available.
(Reporting by Michael Erman, Julie Steenhuysen and Manas Mishra; Editing by Bill Berkrot)