41% of US’ essential workers, 34% in high-risk group ‘not likely’ to take Covid-19 shot once authorized: CDC

Coronavirus vaccine should go to healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents first, recommends CDC’s advisory panel


                            41% of US’ essential workers, 34% in high-risk group ‘not likely’ to take Covid-19 shot once authorized: CDC
(Getty Images)

An estimated 41% of essential workers, excluding healthcare personnel, and another 37% of non-essential workers in the US are “not likely” to get the coronavirus vaccine once it is authorized. Another 34% of Americans who have one or more conditions that put them at greater risk for severe coronavirus said that they are unlikely to get the shot, reveals an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the agency, older adults and people with underlying medical conditions are more likely than others to become severely ill with coronavirus.

The survey included 3,541 American adults, 18 years old, and it was conducted between September 3 to October 1, 2020. The findings were shared at the meeting of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in November. It comes even as an advisory panel of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to meet on December 10 to discuss emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

The report suggests that in the “high-risk condition” category, 23% are “somewhat likely” and 21% are “very likely” to go for a vaccine. About 30% of those who are 65 years and older are unlikely to get the jab, 21% are somewhat likely to get it, and 25% are very likely to opt for vaccination.

According to the researchers, 40% of Americans who are below the age of 65 reported that they may not get the jab, while 23% and 18% said they are somewhat likely and very likely to get vaccinated, respectively. Among non-healthcare essential workers, as well as non-essential workers, 22% in each category are “somewhat likely” and 20% are “very likely” to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

(CDC)

 

The analysis, however, does not list the reasons for vaccine hesitancy. A September poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) had suggested that 62% of Americans worry that the political pressure from the Trump administration will lead the FDA to rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine without making sure that it is safe and effective.

To assure Americans, the FDA issued stricter guidelines for Covid-19 vaccine developers in October, asking them to follow study volunteers for at least two months to look for any possible safety issues before the agency would consider emergency approval. “In addition to outlining our expectations for vaccine sponsors, we also hope the agency’s guidance on Covid-19 vaccines helps the public understand our science-based decision-making process that assures vaccine quality, safety, and efficacy for any vaccine that is authorized or approved,” Dr Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the FDA division that approves vaccines, had said back then.

A September poll shows that 62% of Americans worry that political pressure will lead the FDA to rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine without ensuring it is safe and effective (Getty Images)

Who should get the vaccine first?

Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities (which includes skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities) should get the Covid-19 vaccine first, once it gets emergency use authorization, the ACIP said, voting 13-to-1 to make this recommendation on December 1. Two coronavirus vaccine manufacturers have filed EUA with the FDA: Pfizer/BioNTech on November 20, and Moderna on November 30.

The recommendation has to be accepted by CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield. The agency will then issue guidelines on who should get priority access, though final decisions will rest with the states. The single vote against the recommendation came from Dr Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University, who said she was worried that the vaccine had not been studied in residents of long-term care facilities, and had concerns whether the vaccines would work as well for them. She, however, supported giving the vaccine to healthcare workers. While Covid-19 vaccines have not yet been tested in long-term care residents, they have been tested in some older adults in clinical trials.

According to the panel, as of November 30, at least 243,000 confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded among healthcare personnel, with 858 deaths. Long-term care facility residents and staff account for 6% of cases and 40% of deaths in the US, suggest numbers as of November 24. The experts also noted that the majority of Covid-19-associated hospitalized patients older than 75 years, were admitted from a long-term care facility. “As of November 26, about 730,000 Covid-19 cases and 100,240 deaths (have been recorded) among long-term care facility residents/staff,” shows analysis.

Majority of coronavirus-associated hospitalized patients older than 75 years, were admitted from a long-term care facility (LTCF) in the US (CDC)

 

The committee has hinted that the next priority group it will advise for vaccination will be essential workers, which includes people working in the education sector, food and agriculture, utilities, transportation, as well as the police, firefighters, and corrections officers, among others.

Initial doses of any coronavirus vaccine will be limited in the US. “We expect a constrained supply environment for some months and need to make the best use of the available vaccine. By the end of December, the number of doses available (in the US) will be about 40 million, enough to vaccinate 20 million people. (We) anticipate 5-10 million doses per week post-authorization,” informed experts.

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