Which Americans Can Get a Covid-19 Vaccine Now? Full Guidance


The U.S. government, faced with an unrelenting surge in coronavirus cases, issued recommendations this week regarding which people in the country should be vaccinated first. Here are answers to some common questions.

Alex M. Azar II, the health secretary, urged all states on Tuesdat to open up eligibility to everyone 65 and older and to adults of any age with medical conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19.

In all, that is more than 150 million people — almost half the population. They now join millions of health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities who previously qualified.

Mr. Azar did not specify which conditions would make someone eligible for vaccination now; presumably it will be up to governors to decide, as will the question of what documentation to require. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a list of particularly high-risk conditions, including cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Most pharmacies are not yet offering the vaccine, but CVS, Walgreens and a number of other chain pharmacies, including some in grocery and big-box stores, will soon start doing so through a partnership with the federal government.

In some states, yes.

Health care workers in every state were the first to be offered the vaccine. And before Mr. Azar’s directive this week, several states had already opened vaccination to certain categories of “frontline” essential workers, like police officers, firefighters, teachers, child-care workers and public transit employees.

But other states that had planned to start offering the vaccine soon to some essential workers may reprioritize now based on Mr. Azar’s new guidance.

There is nothing stopping states from opening vaccination to a new priority group before they have reached everyone in an earlier group, but supply is an important consideration.

Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies whose vaccines have been approved for emergency use in the United States, together have pledged to provide 400 million doses over the next seven months.

Both vaccines require two doses, so that will be enough for 200 million people, out of roughly 260 million who are currently eligible to be vaccinated. Children younger than 16 are not yet eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine, and those younger than 18 cannot yet take Moderna’s.

Johnson & Johnson, whose single-dose vaccine candidate is in late-stage clinical trials, has a contract with the U.S. government to provide 12 million doses by the end of February and a total of 100 million doses by the end of June. But the company has fallen behind on its production schedule.

The publicly available data lags by at least a few days, so it is hard to know for sure. But the C.D.C. reported on Wednesday that about 10.3 million people had received an initial dose, out of 29.4 million doses distributed around the country so far.

That includes nearly 1.1 million doses that have been given to residents and staff members in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.



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