“We want to immunize for impact,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Monday, when asked who should be next to be vaccinated. “We want to make sure we’re giving it to the people who are most likely to die from this virus.”
Adams said that 40% to 50% of deaths are occurring in people who are in long-term care facilities or who are older, but “we also want out health care workers who are on the frontlines to be able to get it.”
“This surge is different than earlier surges, because it’s not about PPE. It’s not about testing. It’s really about health care capacity, and certain places are just being overwhelmed,” Adams said. “So, we know that we can actually help them with their health care capacity by immunizing their health care staff.”
Adams said the decision about who would get the vaccine would be left up to the states, but they will receive guidance.
Some states will have to immunize their health care workers first, he said. Others will find they get greater impact by vaccinating the older people and people wither underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk for serious illness.
“But about 20 million doses, or full doses, are going to be available by the end of this year – and we’ll keep pushing vaccines out to people as quickly as we can so that we can end this pandemic,” Adams said.
He asked people to follow the three W’s: wear a mask, wash hands and watch your distance; also to avoid people outside of their household as much as possible.
“And please be patient with your leaders around the country. They’re trying to preserve hospital capacity,” Adams said, adding that the leaders want everyone who needs a bed to have access to a bed.
“That’s not going to happen if we keep engaging in behaviors that lead to the spread of the virus,” he said.