How to Get Your COVID Vaccine First, According to a Doctor
After months of anticipation the COVID-19 vaccine is finally here. With cases soaring across the country and hospitalizations and deaths breaking records daily, many Americans are eager to get their first injection as soon as possible. How can you make sure you are first in line? Eat This, Not That! Health asked Dr. Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, how to make sure you get the vaccine as soon as possible. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Healthcare Workers and Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities Are First in Line
According to Dr. Mareiniss and CDC guidelines, the only way to get vaccinated in the initial phase will be if you are either a healthcare worker or a resident of a long-term care facility.
"Healthcare personnel are defined as paid and unpaid people serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials," explains the CDC. "Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently."
As to why frontline healthcare workers are the top priority, Dr. Mareiniss explains they "are integral to the pandemic response and not easily replaced," especially because there is currently a shortage. "Also, they are frequently exposed to the virus. It's important that we protect them, and by doing so, ensure our ability to provide care for sick patients and fight the pandemic."
The Next Group Will Likely Include Essential Workers—and After Them, "the General Public"
The next groups will likely include other healthcare personnel and workers in essential and critical industries. Then, priority will likely shift to people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions per CDC guidelines and people 65 years and older. While there isn't a set day as to when the next group of people will be offered the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, is hopeful that "by the time you get into the middle, towards the end of the first quarter of 2021, you will have accounted for and vaccinated those who are in the higher priority groups," he revealed during a recent interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. Then, by April or early May, the vaccine will be more readily available to the general public.
As for pregnant women and children, who have not been included in any vaccine trials as of yet, Dr. Fauci revealed during a discussion on Thursday sponsored by Columbia University on Thursday that there will likely be trails in the near future.
"That will not necessarily be looking at efficacy, but we'll be looking at safety and immunogenicity to bridge to the efficacy in the adult non-pregnant population," he said. "The same holds true for the pediatric population. Those studies will probably start in mid- to late-January."
However, it doesn't hurt to be proactive. "If you fall into any of these categories, my advice would be to call up your healthcare provider and let them know you are interested in receiving the vaccine as soon as possible," Dr. Mareiniss suggests.
How to Survive the Pandemic Until There is a COVID Vaccine Available to You
As for yourself, follow Dr. Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene and to protect your life and the lives of others, and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.