WHEN SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT...

When Can You Expect the COVID-19 Vaccine to Be Available to You?

Dec. 9, 2020 - Katie McCallum

Since the pandemic began, we've all eagerly awaited a COVID-19 vaccine. Less than one year later, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to two COVID-19 vaccines — the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

We know that demand for the vaccine will dramatically exceed the supply for the first several months of distribution, so you may be wondering when exactly the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to you.

Who will be first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC has been prepared for quite some time to offer prioritization recommendations if vaccine supply is limited, stating that it's critical for initial supplies to be distributed in a fair, ethical and transparent way.

On Dec. 1, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice made recommendations of who should be prioritized to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC officially adopted these recommendations the next day. The major goals of these initial recommendations were to decrease death and serious illness, as well as to ensure that our health care system can continue to operate effectively during the ongoing pandemic.

According to these recommendations, those who should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1a are:

  • Health care workers, due to their risk of direct exposure and necessity in keeping hospitals functioning
  • Residents of long-term care facilities, who account for a significant portion of COVID-19 deaths to date

After these priority groups have been offered access to the vaccine, the following groups will next be provided a chance to get vaccinated:

  • Phase 1b: People over the age of 75 and frontline essential workers (including law enforcement, teachers and grocery workers)
  • Phase 1c: People between the age of 65 to 75, people over the age of 16 who are high risk and other essential workers

When can you expect the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to you?

While the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine will be limited for the first several months, available doses are expected to increase. In fact, the CDC expects that most adults should be able to get vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Vaccine distribution is being handled at the state level, so it's important for to keep your state's rollout plan ad criteria in mind as you stay up-to-date on when exactly the vaccine will be made available to you.

Additionally, as early COVID-19 vaccine trials only included non-pregnant adults, the CDC says that, at first, the vaccine may not be recommended for children — although this may change in the future.

In the meantime — and even if you are in one of the priority groups that is vaccinated early — it remains critical for everyone to:

 

This article was updated on January 12, 2021 to reflect the current state of the COVID-19 vaccine landscape.

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