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Who to vaccinate when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready?

Pfizer’s could be available in December.

Last Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency authorization for their novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine. However, many persons are concerned about taking the vaccine for the coronavirus. Some people are concerned about the expedited development and trial process.

The submission made to the FDA is based on the results of the phase 3 clinical trial of Pfizer’s vaccine, which began in the United States on July 27 which enrolled more than 43,000 volunteers.

The final analysis of the trial found that the COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced last week. The presentation also includes safety data on about 100 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

Who is ready for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Over the past few months, many persons have declined to get the vaccine when it becomes available. A national survey by Pew Research Center conducted in May found that 72% of people in the United States said they would get the vaccine if it was available. This number dropped to 51% in September. In a similar survey from Cable News Network (CNN), the results showed a decline from 66% in May to 51% in early October of persons who said they would get the vaccine for COVID-19.

Once the vaccine is authorized, who to vaccinate when it is ready?

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), discusses how ethical values should guide the prioritization of a COVID-19 vaccine among populations.

In conclusion, the researchers consider that a vaccine should be assigned according to the following criteria: To prevent harm, prioritize disadvantaged people and achieve equal treatment.

For its part, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security prepared a document entitled “Interim Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution in the United States”, which aims to constitute an ethics framework on how to best approach the distribution and allocation of scarce SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

The report is directed specifically to the United States, and is based on general ethical principles that include legitimacy, the common good, justice and fairness and “sense of ownership in a pluralist society.”

The report aims to start a national dialogue through multiple forms of community engagement that incorporates a physical distancing environment; a task the federal government should undertake as soon as possible.

Input from the public and stakeholders and developing vaccine allocation and distribution strategies that address cultures and concerns are deemed essential within the national dialogue recommended by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The Center states that, “evidence, or even perceptions, of problems with safety or efficacy can affect vaccine acceptance. If there is pervasive hesitancy, vaccine uptake in some of the priority groups may be slow, the report put forward adding that, “what is done early in a vaccination campaign will have implications for every aspect of our personal and public life. We risk reducing confidence in government, as well as our public health and healthcare systems if the allocation, distribution, and administration of the vaccine is not handled appropriately and clearly communicated.”

A vaccination campaign is more likely to go smoothly and be accepted by the public when an “allocation strategy is ethical, nationally consistent, fair, and informed by key constituency groups, which would result in many lives saved and faster economic recovery,” the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security further concluded.

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