How should we prioritize a COVID vaccine for communities that have been hit hardest?

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Frontline health workers, elderly people, and those with chronic conditions that make them especially vulnerable to Covid-19 are likely to be at the head of the line, but there is also support among public health experts for making special efforts to deliver the vaccine early on to Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and Native American people — who have experienced higher rates of serious illness and death from the coronavirus.

The [Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] will be guided in part by a framework released [October 2] by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which advocates taking an equitable approach to vaccine allocation.

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Across all phases, the National Academies says geographic priority should be given to communities that are high on what the CDC calls the Social Vulnerability Index, which identifies communities most endangered and in need of aid during disasters like hurricanes. The index takes into account poverty, unemployment, and health insurance rates, among other socioeconomic, demographic, housing, and transportation vulnerabilities.

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“We wanted to make sure that there was real consideration given to getting it to people who are at the highest risk, particularly communities of color, who oftentimes are higher on that social vulnerability scale,” said [Chicago Community Trust CEO Helene] Gayle.

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