New National and State Estimates for Recommended COVID-19 Vaccination Priority Population

This month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adopted a recommendation that health care workers and long-term care residents should be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it is authorized or approved by the FDA.

A new KFF analysis estimates there are 15.5 million people working in health care settings who have direct patient contact, 1.2 million nursing facility residents and another 800,000 assisted living facility residents nationwide. These 17.6 million adults, about 7% of U.S. adults, would qualify for priority vaccinations as the first doses of vaccines are distributed to states this month, based on the CDC recommendation.

The analysis shows the share of each state’s adult population who are health care workers with direct patient contact or nursing facility residents, ranging from 4% in Washington, DC to 10% in North Dakota. California has the largest number of adults in these groups, more than 1.7 million, followed by Texas (1.3 million) and New York (1.2 million). Due to data limitations, our state-level estimates do not include people who live in assisted living facilities or in other residential settings.

While no public information has been released about initial state allotments of COVID-19 vaccines, certain states may be faced with inadequate vaccine supply for their priority population and will then have to apply additional factors to determine priority recipients. For the full state-by-state estimates and discussion read the full brief, Estimates of the Initial Priority Population for COVID-19 Vaccination by State.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.