…NGFA joins in urging governors to prioritize food and ag essential workers…
By Randy Gordon, President and CEO
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) conducted a four-hour emergency public meeting on Dec. 1 during which it approved an interim recommendation to the states on prioritizing the allocation of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus.
The interim recommendations include the following: Once a COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to occur during a Dec. 10 FDA meeting, with the agency tentatively scheduling another review of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17 – and once recommended by ACIP shortly thereafter, vaccination in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program (Phase 1a) should be offered to health care personnel and residents of long-term facilities. Under the interim recommendation, health care personnel are defined as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious material. Meanwhile, long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.
Before approving the interim recommendations, the ACIP members also discussed those considered to be in Phase 1b for vaccination prioritization – the second-highest priority. These include essential workers in the food and agriculture, education, utility, emergency responders (e.g., police and firefighters), corrections officers and transportation sectors as designated earlier by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (which include employees in the grain elevator, feed, grain, oilseed and meat processing, milling, baking and other food and ag sectors). The ACIP also discussed those in the third prioritization category – Phase 1c – which includes adults with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 and older. But the advisory group took no action in these two categories until after the Dec. 10 FDA meeting. The Phase 1a interim recommendation was needed to give time for states to plan for the initial allocation and distribution of the vaccines. A two-page summary of ACIP’s interim recommendation is available here.
Meanwhile, President Trump has scheduled a Dec. 8 meeting at the White House for all the nation’s governors to review and answer questions about the CDC initial recommendations for vaccine allocation and prioritization.
NGFA Joins Groups in Requesting Governors Follow Federal Guidance in Establishing Vaccine Prioritization: NGFA this week was involved in several calls with top White House, CDC and other public health experts during which federal officials reiterated that governors ultimately will determine the prioritization for vaccinations, since they are in the best position to ascertain local conditions. On Dec. 1, NGFA joined 24 other national agricultural organizations in transmitting letters to the National Governors Association, as well as President Trump and President-elect Biden commending the expedited development and review of COVID-19 vaccines under Operation Warp Speed, and encouraging the governors to follow federal guidance for essential critical infrastructure workers when developing their vaccine prioritization plans.
The two-page letters noted that including front-line workers in the food and agriculture sectors in the second-highest priority for vaccinations was consistent with recommendations issued by both the National Academies of Sciences, engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, as well as CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook.