Priority List For COVID-19 Vaccines In The United States

It's the month of March, and yes, after a long wait of one year, the COVID-19 vaccines are finally here. The supply isn’t meeting the demand in several states, but you can be assured that you are soon going to get it. 

Back in December, two vaccine candidates Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, gained emergency-use approval, providing them with an official green signal for distribution in the United States. The latest scientific approach utilized in both these vaccines is the same - the use of RNA or mRNA. 

In February 2021, one more vaccine candidate Johnson & Johnson, got approval. The scientific technology used in this vaccine differs from that used in the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. It is an adenovirus viral vector vaccine that is delivered in a single shot (Meaning one appointment, and it's done!)

According to the reports of the CDC, more than 100 million people in the United States have received their first dose of either Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Biden administration has purchased about 800 million vaccine doses so far, including 300 million from Pfizer, 300 million from Moderna, and 200 million from Johnson & Johnson. 

All the doses are set to be distributed by May; hypothetically, we can assume the vaccine doses will be adequate for all Americans with some extra doses that the Biden administration plans to distribute to some other countries. 

Where Do You Fall In The Priority List?

Are you curious to know where do you stand on the priority list to evaluate your turn for the COVID-19 vaccine? Have a look at the points below

1. Frontline Healthcare Workers

Front-line workers are at the top of the priority list as they are the ones who are in close proximity with the infected people. As we all know, multiple exposures increase the odds of getting contracted with the COVID-19 virus, and thus, healthcare workers are at the highest risk. Moreover, we want our healthcare workers to be healthy and safe, so they could better take care of the people who are sick. 

2. Elderly Adults Dwelling In Long-term Care Facilities

Elderly adults who dwell in long-term care facilities or nursing homes make up the second group in the highest priority. This seizes a population with lots of comorbidities, are elderly, and are at significant risk of developing serious complications. 

3. Elderly Adults Living At Home

After the elderly people are living in the long-term care facilities, the next in line is the elderly people living independently in their homes. In several states, these groups of people have already started receiving COVID-19 vaccine shots.

4. Essential Workers

There are many essential workers who put their lives at stake just to keep society functioning. These people will soon start receiving the vaccine, although it's uncertain who will be the first shots in this specific group. Seemingly elderly people and those with comorbidities who work outside their homes will be given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

5. People With Pre-existing Health Conditions

Regardless of age, people with comorbidities are at high risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus and therefore are next on the list. Many states are already allowing people with comorbidities to get vaccinated, while other states are yet to open up the vaccine for this particular group of population. 

6. Adults (ages 16 years or older) With Average Risk

Finally, we can hope that all adults at average risk can get vaccinated by May 2021. To attain herd immunity, at least 70% of people need to achieve either vaccine-induced immunity or natural immunity; it will make no difference which of the vaccines they get. The prime objective is to have 70% herd immunity in order to significantly minimize the transmission of the disease. 

Currently, there are still many groups who aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and we don’t know whether they could ever be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the next couple of months—wondering whether you belong to this group? Keep reading the blog and find out who shouldn’t get the vaccine. 

Who Can’t Or Shouldn’t Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?

People who can’t or shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine include:

Children Below 16 Years Of Age

Children are usually considered to be at low risk than elderly adults and those with comorbidities, and so they aren’t in the highest priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, they will still need to get vaccinated for their own safety and prevent them from transmitting the virus to their friends, family members, or teachers. 

This is, in fact, the basic procedure not to try vaccines on small children until it's proven safe for a vast majority of adults first. 

While the Pfizer vaccine is approved to be used for those 16 years and above, you need to be at least 18 years older to qualify for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. 

Those With Severe Allergies To The COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients

In general, people who ever had an allergic reaction to any of the COVID-19 vaccine ingredients should not get vaccinated at all until at least more details are known. 

If you have had an anaphylactic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, you should not go for the second dose. 

Now let us discuss the ingredients contained in each of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. If you previously had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients, kindly inform your healthcare provider.

Pfizer Vaccine Ingredients

The ingredients in the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine include:

  • mRNA (messenger RNA), which are molecules that provide instructions to the cells about how to make proteins to provoke a protective immune response
  • Lipids to help encapsulate and protect the mRNA molecules
  • Monobasic potassium
  • Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  • Phosphate
  • Potassium chloride
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sucrose

Moderna Vaccine Ingredients

The ingredients in the Moderna vaccine include:

  • mRNA
  • Lipids (SM-102, 1,2-dimyristoyl-rac-glycero3-methoxy polyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC])
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Tromethamine
  • Sodium acetate
  • Acetic acid
  • Sucrose

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Ingredients

The ingredients in Johnson & Johnson vaccine include:

  • Recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
  • Citric acid monohydrate
  • Trisodium citrate dihydrate
  • Ethanol
  • 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD)
  • Polysorbate-80
  • Sodium chloride

Who Should Be Cautious While Considering The COVID-19 Vaccine?

The following groups of people need to be cautious while considering the COVID-19 vaccine:

Immunocompromised People

Immunocompromised people are among the highest risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19, but this group wasn't included in the clinical trials. Scientists are yet to reveal how safe these vaccines are for people with compromised immune systems. 

As mRNA vaccines don’t contain any live-attenuated or whole virus, they are considered safer than other conventional vaccines, but again nothing is proven yet.

Pregnant or Lactating Women

Pregnant women may opt to get vaccinated if they wish. But as pregnant and lactating women were not included in the clinical trial, we are not sure how safe it would be for them. Pfizer is now conducting a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine with healthy pregnant women (18 years or older). As of now, it depends upon the pregnant women and their healthcare providers to decide whether to get the vaccine or not.