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COVID-19 vaccine priority list: Which group are you in?

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.

At least three candidates are up for Emergency Use Authorization this month. Pfizer and Moderna seem to be the top candidates thus far, while AstraZeneca is following just behind.

Pfizer’s vaccine has already been approved for use in Canada, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, where the world’s first doses were administered Tuesday.

By the end of December, the CDC estimates the U.S. will have enough vaccines to treat 20 million people.

The state of California is expected to get 327,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by next week. Additionally, the state is on track to receive nearly 700,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the next weeks, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

But the real question is: Once, approved — who will get the vaccine first?

Well, Gov. Newsom specified that healthcare workers would be among the first to get priority of the vaccine, a policy consistent with governments around the world.

After healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff will be next in line.

State officials will decide on who else gets the vaccine first based on the three tiers outlined from the state’s Department of Public Health:

Tier 1:

  • Acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for those who are older or medically vulnerable
  • Paramedics, EMTs and others providing emergency medical services
  • Dialysis centers

Tier 2:

  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Home healthcare & supportive services
  • Community health workers
  • Public health field staff
  • Primary Care clinics, including 
  • Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics

Tier 3:

  • Specialty clinics
  • Laboratory workers
  • Dental and oral health clinics
  • Pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers

With 7.4 million non-health care essential workers in California, according to the Department of Public Health’s community vaccine advisory committee, the state is left with determining who should be included in Phase 1-B.

Although nothing is set in stone, other essential workers say they want to be included at the top.

TEACHERS/SCHOOL STAFF

On Dec. 2, a letter was sent to California health leaders asking that teachers and school staff get early access to a vaccine.

Teachers throughout the country have been rallying together to call on leaders to protect them.

During its school board meeting, the Berkeley School Board passed a resolution that calls on Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers, to include teachers at the top of the priority list of those receiving the vaccine.

The sooner they are able to have access to a vaccine, the sooner they can welcome students back into the classrooms.

AGRICULTURAL WORKERS

It’s nearly impossible to talk about essential workers in California without mentioning the state’s 80,000 agricultural workers.

These agricultural workers are some of the most at-risk laborers, living in packed houses with several different family members, driving in crowded buses to work and who also lack access to basic medical care.

CHILD CARE PROVIDERS

Like many others, child care providers have been struggling to stay afloat since the start of the pandemic.

For months, they have been pleading for help from the government.

Back in April, Gov. Newsom said: “Child care has been a huge challenge. 63% of license facilities have been impacted by this crisis. That’s a jaw dropping number.”

Throughout 2020, more than 5,700 providers have at some point closed their doors, according to Child Care Providers United, with more than 60,000 kids losing access to care.

MILITARY PERSONNEL

Following the Pentagon’s initial allotment of the coronavirus vaccine, military personnel who provide “critical national capabilities” such as nuclear weapons crews and cybersecurity forces, will be next in line.

The Pentagon will administer the vaccine at 16 defense sites in the U.S. and abroad — including Base Alameda Health Services at the Coast Guard Base at Alameda.

JOURNALISTS

The National Press Photographers Association filed a request with the CDC asking that journalists who have come into contact with the public on a regular basis, be included in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution phase that includes essential workers.

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