After many long months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines will be a vital tool for controlling and eventually ending this pandemic that has caused so much loss, pain, and disruption around the world. This next essential step in the fight against COVID-19 will take time — but things are moving in the right direction.
States have begun to receive limited quantities of the COVID-19 vaccine and are making them available to approved vaccine providers. Kaiser Permanente has been approved to be a vaccine provider in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Current COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited, and vaccination will happen in phases. Supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated at some point in 2021 (at this time, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is approved for people 18 years of age and older, and the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for people 16 years of age and older.).
COVID-19 vaccine administration phases
Each state is reviewing this guidance and using it to inform their plans for whom to include in each phase. Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have made recommendations on whom to include in each phase, each state may choose to include slightly different populations in each phase, so it will be important for you to follow the vaccine qualification decisions made in your state.
Phase 1 – Limited doses mean vaccine administration will be tightly regulated by each state. CDC and ACIP have divided high risk priority groups into Phase 1a, Phase 1b, and Phase 1c:
- Phase 1a
- Health care workers — because of their higher risk for exposure, and to help prevent them from transmitting COVID-19 to patients
- Residents of long-term care facilities — because they represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths2
- Phase 1b
- People age 75 years and older
- Essential frontline workers, as defined by the state
- Phase 1c
- People ages 65 to 74
- People ages 16 to 64 with high-risk health conditions
- Other essential workers, as defined by the state
Phase 2 – The vaccine will be more widely available at doctor’s offices as well as retail pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. There will continue to be a focus on the populations most at risk.
Phase 3 – Similar to how we experience flu vaccines today – with easy access for anyone who is interested in it.
Information about state phases
A state will need to complete whichever vaccination phase they are in before moving to the next phase. For example, when a state has vaccinated all qualified people under Phase 1a who want a vaccine, they will move into Phase 1b. The timing of when each state moves from one phase into the next phase will vary, so it will be important for you to follow the phasing happening in your state.
To stay up to date on what is happening in your state, please visit the websites below. These websites are your primary destination for all the information you need about the COVID-19 vaccine in your state.
Who Should Get the Vaccine
We recommend that all adults receive the vaccine. The only exception is those who are allergic to any of the vaccines’ ingredients, those who have a history of anaphylaxis, and those who have had severe reactions to vaccines previously.
The COVID-19 vaccine is especially important for people over the age of 65 and for those who have an underlying medical condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.
Patients with prior COVID-19 infection should receive the vaccine once acute symptoms have resolved and they have finished their quarantine period.
More COVID-19 vaccination resources:
1 Kathleen Dooling, MD, et al., “Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 1, 2020.
2 Priya Chidambaram, et al., “COVID-19 Has Claimed the Lives of 100,000 Long-Term Care Residents and Staff,” Kaiser Family Foundation, November 25, 2020.
3 Kathleen Dooling, MD, et al., “Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 20, 2020.
4 See note 3.