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Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine plan suggests who may get priority

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Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.

USA TODAY

Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccine plan doesn’t say for certain who gets immunized first when vaccines roll out, but the working document suggests priority will go to a broad category of health care workers.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services recently submitted its draft coronavirus vaccine plan to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was a requirement for all states.

The state plans were due Oct. 16. Arizona’s draft plan builds off a model it used during the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic of 2009. Arizona’s plan will be updated as more details are provided to the state from federal partners, state health officials say.

A more detailed “operational” vaccine plan is expected to be completed further along in the process. State health officials say they don’t have a definitive date for when that plan will be released.

In Thursday’s presidential debate, President Donald Trump said there was a COVID-19 vaccine “that’s ready.”

But experts say it’s unlikely a vaccine will be available until the end of the year, and many place wide distribution at sometime in 2021. To date, no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA, either through the regular approval process or by emergency use authorization.

Who might be immunized first?

While more than one COVID-19 vaccine may become available, there might not be enough supply to initially go around. That’s why government officials need to consider who to immunize first, and the ways that they will distribute it.

The state plan references priority populations outlined in the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Playbook released in September, as well as guidance contained in a federal report released earlier this month.

Both the CDC playbook and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report prioritize health care workers and first responders during the first phase of the vaccine rollout.

A state worksheet in the draft plan lists the priority order by category for receiving vaccines, before it would go to the general population:

  • 1a: Health care personnel, among them pharmacists, pharmacy techs, school nurses, home health aides, health care support workers, practitioners and first responders.
  • 1b: Other essential workers such as food industry workers, teachers and child care workers.
  • 1b: People at increased risk for COVID-19 illness, including people age 65 and older.
  • 2: People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting the coronavirus, such as individuals attending colleges and universities and racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • 2: People with limited access to routine vaccination services, including people with disabilities and people who don’t speak English.

“While target groups and prioritization tiers may differ somewhat for each local jurisdiction, this worksheet will assist in estimations and reinforce key planning elements,” Arizona Department of Health Services spokesman Steve Elliott wrote in an email.

The state plan, CDC playbook and NASEM report all reference health inequities that need to be addressed

During COVID, fitness must remain a priority

Kenneth P. Moritsugu
Published 11:00 p.m. ET Oct. 22, 2020

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming election, people are tuning into the news to hear the latest numbers on both, yet when it comes to COVID-19, there is another set of numbers that Americans should be aware of: the toll the virus has taken on our physical and mental health.

The lockdowns across the nation led people to be more sedentary, with a 32% reduction in physical activity. In addition, a recent nationwide poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that more than half of U.S. adults — about 53% — say that their mental health has been negatively impacted by worry and stress over the pandemic. That number is a significant increase from the 32% who reported being similarly affected in March.

Furthermore, these negative health trends also bring into view issues of health equity and health disparities for some of our most vulnerable populations. In Michigan, physical inactivity and obesity disproportionately impact our lower income population and communities of color. While the overall obesity rate in Michigan is 33%, that figure jumps to 35.5% for Latinos and 40.3% for African Americans.

Fitness plays a critical role in combating the virus and improving people’s overall physical and mental health, Moritsugu writes. (Photo: Getty Images, posed by model)

Fitness plays a critical role in combating the virus and improving people’s overall physical and mental health. Chronic health conditions impacting millions of Americans including obesity, hypertension and diabetes can cause complications and significantly increase the chances of hospitalization and death for those who contract COVID-19.

There is also increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Regular physical activity can protect us from these conditions while helping us to fight the virus. You may not think you have the time to squeeze in a workout, but researchers found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system.

Mental health, much like physical health, also disproportionately impacts our lower-income communities. While 6.7% of Michigan residents who make over $75,000 a year reported that they experience frequent mental distress, that number nearly quadruples to 24.3% for those making less than $25,000 a year.

Levels of stress, anxiety and depression across the U.S. all increased during the pandemic. To cope, it appears many Americans turned to alcohol, according to a study by RAND and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which found a spike in consumption. As lead author of the study and RAND sociologist Michael Pollard noted, “People’s depression increases, anxiety increases, [and] alcohol use is often a way to cope with these feelings.”

Once again, fitness can play a role, turning people away from increased alcohol use and toward regular physical activity is known to have long-term mental health benefits that reduce those conditions many are struggling with right now.

All of this underscores the critical need for regular physical activity — especially now

Healthcare Workers, High-Risk People Will Get Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine in New York: Governor | Top News

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that healthcare workers and high-risk populations, including some long-term care residents, would get priority in his state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved and available.

According to the five-phase preliminary plan for New York’s vaccine administration program, some details of which Cuomo announced at a news briefing, healthcare workers in patient-care settings, long-term care facility workers and some long-term care residents would be among the first to receive a vaccine.

In the second phase of vaccine rollout, first responders, school staff, other public-facing frontline workers and people whose health conditions put them at extreme risk would get priority for the vaccine.

In Phase 3, it would be administered to people over 65. All remaining essential workers would receive the vaccine in a fourth phase, and healthy adults and children would receive it in a fifth phase.

Prioritization would also vary by geographic location based on the prevalence of the virus, Cuomo said.

“This is a larger operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date,” he told reporters.

The program will likely seek to deliver some 40 million doses of a vaccine to state residents, as New York’s population is around 20 million and the vaccines in development may require two doses to be effective, Cuomo said.

He said the state had sent the drafted plan to the federal government, along with questions on what funding the federal government would provide for the effort.

“States cannot do this on their own,” he said.

A New York state task force will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process, according to Cuomo, a Democrat who has blasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine,” Cuomo said on Sunday.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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