TAMPA, Fla — Healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents have rolled up their sleeves in the last week for the COVID-19 vaccine. CDC advisers are out now with recommendations on who should be next in line to receive the vaccine when it's available.
“Virtual learning for my family is pretty much a requirement,” said ESE teacher Caitlin Cook.
Cook has been teaching behind a computer the entire semester. Her youngest son has leukemia, so she’s working from home during the pandemic. As soon as it's available, Cook says she’ll get the vaccine.
“I don’t have any reason to see any negative to it other than you might have a sore arm and not feel so great for a couple of days,” said Cook. “It’s a much better alternative to contracting the virus and bringing it home.”
Cook learned she could be among those next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the next priority groups for Phases 1B and 1C.
Phase 1B includes people 75 years old and up as well as frontline essential workers. Frontline essential workers were defined as first responders like police and firefighters, educators, postal and grocery store workers, and those working in food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections and public transit.
Phase 1C covers people 65 to 74 years old, people 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers, which includes people in transportation and logistics and food service.
The recommendations go to the CDC’s director for approval.
“This is not a license for any of us to take off our masks. It’s going to take a while,” said USF Health professor Dr. Michael Teng. “We do really need to reach the great proportion of our people to be vaccinated to have immunity against the virus in order to start slowing transmission.”
As far as when people in these groups could get the vaccine, Dr. Teng thinks possibly in early spring.
“I think it’s somewhat dependent on the ability of the companies to ramp up their production, as well as, I think it’ll be February maybe before we can start seeing these next groups get in line," Dr. Teng said.
Cook recognized there’s a mix of people who will or won’t get the vaccine right away, but she explains her family’s livelihood depends on how other people respond during this pandemic.
“If we don’t achieve that threshold of immunity, then my son is still at risk. Our life doesn’t change. We stay on lockdown indefinitely,” said Cook.