News Release

How are States Prioritizing Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First?

The first Americans were vaccinated today as COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed across the country. A new KFF review of states’ releases and statements about their vaccination priorities finds that most states are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations for the highest priority group (health care workers and long-term care residents), with some choosing to start with one of the populations in the first weeks as they await more supply.

The review does find a handful of states have decided to include additional populations, like law enforcement, prisoners and those who are homeless in the initial priority group. More than 20 states are further segmenting the priority group of health care workers and long-term care residents based on criteria such as risk of exposure and underlying health conditions.

Most states are still developing plans for their later priorities, for which tough decisions will have to be made between essential workers, seniors, and those with high-risk medical conditions, given what is expected to be ongoing limitations in vaccine supply. But several states already differ from what the CDC is likely to recommend according to the review.

Read the full Policy Watch, How are States Prioritizing Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First?, for all the findings. You can also read an earlier assessment of state’s distribution plans and a new KFF analysis of national and state estimates of health care workers and long-term care residents expected to be in the priority vaccination group.

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