The answer depends on each person's health, what they do for a living and where they live.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, Biden's nominee for surgeon general, said he believes it may take until late spring to finish vaccinating high-risk populations, if all goes according to plan. That means mid-summer may be a "realistic" timeline for the general public to begin vaccinations, he told NBC.
Here are key things to know:
Who is first in line?
- Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line, followed by adults ages 75 and older and frontline essential workers such as first responders.
- The next phase will be adults between 65 and 75, those between 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions and "other essential workers," according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Who is an essential worker?
- The ACIP defines frontline essential workers as anyone employed in "sectors essential to the functioning of society (who) are at substantially higher risk of exposure" to the coronavirus.
- Besides first responders, that includes those working in education and child care, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, the US Postal Service, public transit and grocery stores. There are roughly 30 million people in this category.
Who is making decisions at the state level?
- It will ultimately fall on state governors to make calls on who gets the vaccinations and when, Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said. However, most states have advisory committees or tasks forces in their health and preparedness agencies that will provide recommendations to governors.
- While the ACIP issues guidelines of who gets the first doses, states are free to make their own decisions.
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