Health-care workers will be vaccinated first. For now, they’re handling a surge in hospitalizations.
By Ariana Eunjung Cha, Lenny Bernstein, Lena H. Sun and Jose Del Real
Hospitals are confronting new and alarming levels of strain amid a surge of coronavirus patients, with nearly 100,000 hospitalized nationwide Tuesday. Now, even with the hope that vaccines will arrive soon, health-care workers who are already stretched thin are bracing for an unprecedented wave of illness.
Good news arrived for medical staff on Tuesday, when a federal advisory panel recommended that an estimated 21 million health-care workers should be given the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine because the vaccine initially will be in extremely short supply after it is cleared by federal regulators. About 3 million residents of long-term care facilities also should receive top priority, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. A vaccine, which could be authorized for distribution by the end of the month, would finally provide much-needed protection for the elderly, who are at highest risk of death if they are infected, and medical staff because of their exposure to the virus and their critical role in keeping the nation’s hospitals and clinics functioning.
Until then, an influx of new covid-19 patients could lead to hard decisions in the worst-hit hospitals about how to allocate medical resources and care.