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Who goes first?

Phase One of COVID-19 vaccine allocation, explained.

Article Author: Wesley Roberts

Article Date:

Phase One Vaccine Allocation

We’ve officially embarked on one of the largest public health endeavors in history – the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. While vaccines provide hope for the “beginning of the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply is initially limited and vaccines will be distributed to eligible populations in phases based on likelihood of exposure or risk of serious illness.

Who decides?

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on the Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all available data, votes on whether to recommend the vaccine and outlines who should receive it.

The federal guidelines are then used by state and local authorities, who are ultimately responsible for the distribution and dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines. While we eagerly await the ACIP’s recommendations for the second and third phases, check out who is covered in Phase One.

The Sunshine State

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Dec. 23, 2020, outlining the state’s plan for Phase One of vaccine allocation. The populations include:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Persons 65 years of age and older
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact

The executive order also states hospitals may provide the vaccine to those who are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. According to the CDC, medical conditions that might put adults at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or other chronic lung disease
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Active smoking
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain; carotid stenosis, aneurysms, vascular malformations)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Neurological conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Chronic blood disorder (sickle cell disease, thalassemia, anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, etc.)
  • Chronic liver disease (cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis)
  • Sleep apnea

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition and are wondering whether you should get the vaccine, discuss this with your primary care physician or other health care provider,” recommended Tammy Daniel, DNP, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Baptist Health. “Your doctor will be able to help guide you in the right direction based on your personal health history.”

When’s my turn?

People around the country are all asking the same question, “When will I be able to receive a vaccine?” It all comes down to supply. As supply increases, states will open the door for more people to receive the vaccine, based on allocation guidelines and phases.

The ACIP is expected to release more information about who is included in the second and third phases soon, but an official recommendation has not yet been made.

Federal government officials have stated that every American who wishes to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will have access by June.

“Just as information has evolved rapidly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination information is changing by the minute. Baptist Health is in close contact with the Florida Department of Health and local hospitals to provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine for those in our community,” said Dr. Daniel, who emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated, even if you're healthy, as it can prevent the spread by those who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic. “While information is changing quickly, one thing has remained the same: the vaccine is a safe and effective tool to fight the spread of COVID-19.”

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines as they become more widely available to the public, visit For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call 904.302.5050.

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