The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently released guidelines around the orderly distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The group is comprised of public health and medical professionals who develop recommendations when it comes to vaccinations. With a minimum of two major pharmaceutical companies very close to releasing their COVID-19 shots in the next couple of weeks across the U.S., it seems the start of the distribution will focus on healthcare workers, an estimated 21 million across the nation.
Other groups at the top of the list include “essential” workers, like first responders, farmworkers, teachers, and those in the energy industry, as well as individuals over the age of 65 and those with medical conditions that are high risk.
The committee has stated that these guidelines were created to minimize harm of the illness, maximize benefits, mitigate health inequalities, and promote justice.
ACIP offers up recommendations for guidance around public health, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses these guidelines to set immunization schedules for children and adults, which stem on their recommendations. It’s important to note that the ACIP won’t vote on these guidelines until a COVID vaccine has been approved by the FDA. The recent meeting that took place was an informal one.
A Gallup poll conducted recently implied only 58 percent of those across the United States were willing to get the novel coronavirus vaccination. While hesitancy is normal, part of the role of the ACIP is to instill confidence in these shots.
Chief science advisor for Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, recently stressed that the final say around the order of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is ultimately up to each individual state. They will take the guidelines into account; however, they do independently decide on who gets immunized and in what order.
Consisting of 15 experts who vote on vaccination recommendation, the ACIP is selected by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is done via a nomination and application process.
While one member of the ACIP is an advocate for consumerism, offering ideas around the community and social perspectives of the vaccine, 14 members have experience in immunology, internal medicine, vaccinology, pediatrics, public health, family medicine, preventative medicine, and infectious diseases.
In addition to these 15 “voting” ACIP members, there’s also 30 representatives who do not vote, but come from professional organizations that are highly regarded, within the health sector. They offer comments on the guidelines placed forward from the ACIP, and provide ideas of groups that will apply the guidance.