>Who will be the first to get COVID-19 vaccines?
That answer remains to be seen.
But Pfizer — which most recently announced overwhelmingly positive vaccine results — has selected four states to test early distribution of the immunization.
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They are Rhode Island, Texas, Tennessee, and New Mexico.
According to news reports, the decision factored in variables such as “size, population diversity and immunization infrastructure.”
But its important to know, the states receiving these vaccines early are simply tests. The company has reportedly said that does not mean the general public in these states will have access to the the injections first, nor will the trials in general have any standing on when the four states in question can receive the shots.
No final decision has been made, but the consensus among many experts in the U.S. and globally is that health care workers should be first, said Sema Sgaier of the Surgo Foundation, a nonprofit group working on vaccine allocation issues.
An expert panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also considering giving high priority to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.
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.
State officials are expected to follow the CDC’s guidance as they distribute the first vaccines.
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Vaccine supplies will be limited at first. There won’t be enough to protect everyone, yet getting the shots to the right people could change the course of the pandemic.
Many other questions about distribution remain unanswered, Sgaier noted, such as whether to distribute shots equally across the country, or to focus on areas that are hot spots.
The Associated Press contributed to this article