Divisions emerge over when first COVID vaccines will be available — and for whom

Separately, STAT has learned that senior leaders in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response are pressing for adults 65 years old and older to be given first access to the vaccine. That approach contradicts the position of a committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine policy; the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has signaled for months that it will recommend health care providers be at the front of the vaccination line…

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting in an emergency session Tuesday to vote on a recommendation that would enshrine its position on health care providers — and add residents of long-term care facilities to “Phase 1a” of the vaccination priority schedule. Though some members of the committee have expressed concerns about putting long-term care residents in the first group, none has voiced an objection to giving first access to health workers.

José Romero, the committee’s chairman, said all of the analyses the committee has conducted indicate that vaccinating these two groups first provides the best “bang for our buck” when vaccine supplies are limited — as they will be for the first month or two of the vaccine rollout. The U.S. expects to have enough vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna — whose vaccine is expected to be authorized for use a week or so after the Pfizer product — to vaccinate 20 million Americans in December and another 25 million in January.