CDC Advisers Moved Covid Meeting to Aid States on Deadline

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A meeting to weigh who should get vaccinated first for Covid-19 was moved up to Tuesday because states need to lock in by Friday where they’ll send the initial doses they get from the federal government.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is a group of medical and public health experts that advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the use of vaccines. The advisers were initially set to meet after the first Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use to make recommendations on who should get the shots first. But that’s a move that won’t occur until after Dec. 10.

The advisers decided to meet earlier to “make sure that we offered guidance to the states and other entities so they could make an informed decision about where to make that ask for an allocation,” said Jose Romero, chairman of the advisory panel and the Arkansas Health Secretary.

The group will make interim recommendations on Tuesday and meet again should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decide to authorize emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine, Romero said. FDA advisers are set to discuss the vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE during the Dec. 10 session.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told USA Today the agency’s decision could come within days after the Dec. 10 meeting.

The CDC’s advisory committee doesn’t have the final say on who should get the vaccine first. The agency’s director, Robert Redfield, will determine whether to accept the group’s recommendations. But since the group is made up of top-level experts in the health-care field, the recommendations can be expected to carry a high level of influence moving forward.

Eventually, the decision on who gets the first inoculations will sit with the individual states, who will get a set number of doses from the federal government to distribute as they choose.

Health-Care Workers

During a meeting last week, ACIP discussed putting health-care workers and long-term care facilities at the front of the line to get Covid-19 shots.

While the members largely agreed on health-care workers being first in line for Covid-19 shots, though not officially through a vote, some raised concerns with long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

Still up in the air is whether the vaccines seeking emergency approval will work well in older adults. The public hasn’t yet seen detailed clinical trial data on the vaccines likely to be available before the end of the year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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