CDC officials suggested states and local jurisdictions consider prioritizing healthcare workers with direct patient contact, those who provide services to patients or family members, those who handle infectious materials and workers at long-term care facilities and residents of skilled nursing facilities.
Ultimately, the CDC expects to have as many as 40 million doses of the two-dose vaccines available by the end of the year, which would cover roughly 20 million individuals.
People who get the vaccines will sign consent forms and be given a fact sheet explaining possible side effects, such as fatigue, injection site pain and body aches.
For long-term care residents, the consent forms will also explain that the vaccines have not been tested in that population, and families may be included in conversations about potential risks as needed.
Because the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer may cause temporary flu-like symptoms, the ACIP panel also recommended that healthcare personnel in the same unit be vaccinated at different times to avoid the entire unit feeling ill simultaneously.
ACIP's recommendations will be used by state and local health officials to guide their decision making about how to dole out the vaccines.
The group will meet again after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization to review specific data from the vaccines to help determine which works best in a specific population, such as the elderly.