Who will get a COVID-19 vaccine first in North Texas?

Many people in North Texas could find themselves at the back of the line for a COVID-19 vaccine, behind populations including prisoners and the homeless.

Research experts agree the vaccine rollout will take several months to reach the masses.

“Right now the demand is higher than supply,” said Rajesh Nandy, PhD., Associate Prof. Biostatistics and Epidemiology, UNT Health Science Center.

To illustrate that, the New York Times created a vaccine tool that allows you to calculate your place in the COVID-19 vaccine line.  It uses your age and where you live, along with your profession and whether you have any COVID-related health risks.

For healthy people under 65 who are now working from home, the wait in line is long. Very long.

Proposals by the CDC and National Academies of Sciences recommend after healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and first responders. Next up would be independent elderly, essential workers and teachers. Then the priority could go to the homeless and prisoners.

Dr. Nandy says the recommendation is backed by data.

“The prisoners should be high priority because there have been well documented cases of super spreader events,” Nandy said.

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Next up could be teens, and if approved, younger kids.

“Even though children are at lower risk in terms of developing complications, but they can be a carrier or spreader. We know not being able to attend school in person is having devastating effect,” Nandy said.

Then, finally, everyone else.

But Dr. Nandy says it will be up to the states ultimately to determine if that is best. He says the young and healthy might get moved higher.

“Common sense thinking would be that they should be at the end of supply chain, but it’s not as obvious if we think a little deeper. Because even though at the lowest risk of complications or mortality, they are biggest carriers of asymptomatic transmission.”

Since the vaccine cannot be mandated initially while still only authorized for emergency use, Dr. Nandy says by early summer there should be enough of the vaccine for everyone who wants it.


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