If You Live Here, You'll Get the Vaccine First, Says CDC Chief

Nurse checking a vial of medicine.

With two COVID vaccine candidates proven effective in trails, distribution of the shots is ramping up, which may leave you wondering, when can I get mine? Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, discussed just that on Fox News, projecting the vaccine would be rolled out "by the end of the second week of December" and mentioning who would get it first. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Those in Nursing Homes, and Others, Will Get the Vaccine First

"First it's exceptional that we have these vaccines and it's very exciting," said Redfield. "And again, it just reinforces why I want people to be vigilant because we're turning the corner." He said the vaccine would be rolled out "probably by the end of the second week of December, initially in a hierarchical way—to nursing home residents, and then some combination of healthcare providers and individuals at high risk for a poor outcome. And those decisions are in the process of being finalized as we speak."

The Country Club Village Retirement Community in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for example, is already on the CDC's list, according to local news station KARK4.

"As all of these pieces come together, we want to try to give Americans the best sense of when our most vulnerable will start receiving vaccines," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a briefing Tuesday. "We believe we can distribute vaccines to all 64 jurisdictions within 24 hours of FDA authorization. Then, we hope administration can begin as soon as the product arrives. One of the private sector partners we've enlisted, CVS Health, has said that they expect to be vaccinating residents in nursing homes, one of the top priority groups, within 48 hours after FDA authorization," he added.

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The CDC Decides Who Get the Vaccine and When

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and Director of the National Institutes of Health, laid out the timeline a bit more during an interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. "By the time we get into December, we'll be able to have doses available for people who are judged to be at the highest priority," Fauci said. In another interview with PBS, Fauci revealed that those "higher priority groups" would be determined "according to the recommendation of the CDC."

Per the CDC in addition to age, there are a number of underlying medical conditions that would deem an adult of any age to be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. These include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2), severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

According to the AP, an expert panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also considering giving high priority to workers in essential industries.

"Once a vaccine gets a green light from the Food and Drug Administration, the panel will look at clinical trial data on side effects and how people of various ages, ethnicities and health statuses responded. That will determine the panel's recommendations to the CDC on how to prioritize shots," they explain.

"I do think we'll have about 40 million doses of vaccine before the end of the first year of the year, that's enough to vaccinate 20 million people," said Redfield, "but then it will continue through January and February. And hopefully by March, we'll start to see the vaccine available for the general public."

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The CDC Chief Says "We Still Need to be Vigilant"

Until the vaccine is available, Redfield implored that we all double down on safety measures. "Clearly right now you can see the surge that we're seeing in new cases, unfortunately, in hospitalizations and deaths. And I just try to remind the American public that we're not defenseless against this," he said. "We have powerful tools that we now know they work —wearing a mask. That works. Social distancing. Hand-washing. Being smart about crowds. Really trying to be careful about what we do in indoor settings. These things really do work and they can really blunt this current surge that we're having right now."

"Hope is on the way with the vaccine," he continues, "but over the next two, four, six, eight, 10, 12 weeks for many Americans, we still need to really be vigilant about these mitigation steps and stop the debate about whether they work or not. There's clear evidence that you, for example, that masks do work and protect individuals from both becoming infected as well as potentially infecting others." So wear your mask, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.