In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which has a rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place to ensure the safety, effectiveness and quality of the COVID-19 vaccines. Distribution has begun, but because there is a limited supply, we can expect it will be distributed to certain groups of people first. But who are they?
In order to decide who gets the approved COVID-19 vaccines first, the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have formed a committee that will help assist leaders in who should get the vaccine first. The committee will take into consideration factors such as:
- Population health disparities, which is a health difference that is closely linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantage
- People at higher risk because of health status, occupation or living conditions
- Geographic distribution of active virus spread
Based on these criteria, and in accordance with the Louisiana Department of Health, Ochsner Health has begun vaccinating healthcare workers, adults age 70 and older, patients who are on dialysis, patients receiving home health services, ambulatory healthcare workers including pre-hospital emergency medical services and fire personnel and schools of allied health employees and faculty.
Supply of the vaccine will continue to increase in the weeks and months that follow its emergency use approval and will become more widely available for all. Widespread vaccination is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Just as we are wearing masks and social distancing, getting the vaccine will help us prevent the spread of the virus and reduce your chances of getting it. Even if you are someone that has already contracted COVID-19, it is still recommended you receive the vaccine once it becomes available because there is not enough information currently available to say how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again.
In order to stop this pandemic, we need to use every tool available, which includes immunization, social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Nov. 30, 2020 and has since been updated.