coronavirus

‘Difficult Decisions': First COVID-19 Vaccines Won't Be Enough for All DC-Area Health Care Workers

D.C. and Maryland officials have already warned that the first wave of coronavirus vaccines will only cover a fraction of their health care workers

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The initial wave of vaccines likely won't come close to covering all health care workers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on Tuesday to give health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities first access to the coronavirus vaccine.

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The federal government plans to roll out the first doses of vaccine based on population, not the number of health care workers in each state.

In D.C., officials say they are concerned because so many health care workers commute from outside the city.

The District said Monday it's only expecting to get about 8,000 shots initially. Health officials say about 80,000 doses are needed to cover health care workers.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state expects to receive about 155,000 doses at first. That’s enough for about half of the state’s health care workers.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on Tuesday to grant health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities first access to the coronavirus vaccine.

 “The bad news is: It’s not enough,” Hogan said. “We have very difficult decisions.”

Hogan compared the vaccine rollout to what happened with testing earlier this year.

He said the vaccine rollout may start a little slowly but should accelerate as production continues to ramp up and the Food and Drug Administration approves more vaccines for emergency use.

We don't have official numbers from Virginia, but Gov. Ralph Northam told NPR that Virginia's share of the first batch of vaccines could be about 70,000 doses.

More than 380,000 medical practitioners are licensed across all disciplines, the Virginia Department of Health says.

Northam said "hopefully" all Virginians will be vaccinated by early to mid-summer 2021.

It will take a significant amount of time and resources to roll out a vaccine to more than 15.2 million people living in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. But the process of approval and distribution is moving forward.

Emergency use authorization could come as soon as next week for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Moderna’s approval could come about a week later.

Drug makers and states were preparing to begin disturbing the vaccine in mid-December, CNBC reported.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said 20 million people nationwide could be immunized by the end of the year.

The goal is to provide enough coronavirus vaccine doses to everyone who wants one by the second quarter of 2021, Azar said.

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