The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is still in progress, with many individuals getting their first doses every day. What’s difficult for many to understand, though, is how these vaccines will be rolled out. With much of the United States still dealing with rising numbers and many individuals hoping to return to something resembling normalcy, the lack of easy information about who gets vaccinated and when has been frustrating. Fortunately, the data is out there about what the next few waves of vaccination should look like.
The First in Line
While it’s still unclear in many areas who will be the next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the first doses are already being rolled out and administered to various individuals. The vast majority of those receiving the early dosages are in high-risk positions, with front-line healthcare workers getting most states’ doses before anyone else. Few have found any fault with this choice, especially as hospitalizations increase during the virus’ most recent surges in the United States.
While not receiving the vaccine quite as quickly as front-line workers, there have been others who have received the vaccine early. Several prominent politicians, for example, have received the vaccine in an attempt to show the public that the government has faith in vaccinations. Some states have also already given out vaccines to individuals working in nursing homes and in other high-risk areas, with the first rounds of vaccinations still being carried out across the country.
Going into the Next Phase
This, of course, does raise the question of who will get the next sets of vaccines. While the individual states are largely being left to their own devices to determine who gets vaccinated and when, the Centers for Disease Control have released guidance for the groups that they believe should be prioritized going forward.
The next group to receive the vaccine will largely be the group that’s been at some of the highest levels of risk during the pandemic – the elderly. The CDC have recommended that individuals over the age of 75 be next to get vaccinated, with priority given to those who have medical conditions that put them in more danger.
The other groups who seem to be likely to get the vaccine in the near future are those who are consistently on the front line of public service. Teachers, first responders, police officers, and postal employees are high up on the list, as are those who work in grocery stores and in vital manufacturing positions. How these groups will be prioritized is still up in the air, but most states do seem to have plans in place to get members of those groups who are at higher risks vaccinated more quickly.
Though the elderly and those fulfilling vital public roles seem to be next on the list, vaccinations will continue to go through several more stages. After the second wave of vaccinations go out, those over sixty-five will likely be the next to get vaccinated. Also in the third wave will be those who are in public-facing jobs – including transit workers and and food service employees – as well as those who are under sixty-four but who have serious medical conditions that could be exacerbated by Covid.
The final rounds of vaccination will target those who are at the lowest theoretical levels of risk for illness. As the current vaccines are not recommended for those under sixteen, the last rounds will go out to the remaining population that’s between the ages of sixteen and sixty-four but who do not have other serious underlying medical conditions. The full rollout will almost certainly take longer than most would like, but it will ensure that everyone is eventually given the chance to get the vaccine.
Up to the States
It is important to remember that no matter what guidance the CDC gives, the individual states do have a great deal of influence in determining the order in which vaccines are given. Each state has its own health department that has created a distribution plan, and those departments may have slightly different priorities than the federal government.
It’s also important to remember that the number of doses received by each state does differ significantly, largely due to the planning processes enacted by the states but also due to the population. As such, some states may enter the third wave of vaccinations long before others have even finished their second.
Though COVID-19 vaccinations are occurring, the speed at which they are given out will be limited by logistical concerns. Though knowing which group you fall into in terms of vaccination priority may not tell you exactly when you’ll get a vaccine, knowing your group can give you a better idea of where you stand in line.