Who will get the first COVID vaccines? States race to decide – Portland Press Herald

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WASHINGTON — As the first COVID-19 vaccines move toward federal approval, states are racing to finalize plans for who will get the first doses and how they will be distributed — critical decisions that have taken on new urgency as drugmakers prepare to ship vaccines in just a few weeks.
State and federal health officials have largely agreed that front-line health care workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients should be vaccinated first, a vital step as infections soar this fall, filling hospitals across the country.
There is also broad consensus that nursing home residents and patients at other long-term care facilities should be targeted in the initial immunization push. The virus has proved to be particularly deadly in these populations.
That means most Americans shouldn’t expect to get a vaccine at their doctor’s office or pharmacy for many months.
Starting off with a targeted immunization campaign also puts off for now knotty questions about which people deserve to get assistance next, how minority and low-income communities hit hardest by the virus can be reached, and how the wealthy and well-connected can be prevented from jumping the line.
The stakes are high, said Thomas J. Bollyky, who directs the …

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