The primary purposes of the vaccination effort should be to protect health care workers, to prevent deaths, and to reduce the number of ICU patients. There is plenty of data to decide who should be vaccinated first.
We know the elderly are far more likely to die or end up in the ICU. In the Rappahannock Area Health District, 1 percent of deaths were people below age 40, while 80 percent were people 65 or older. Almost 40 percent of the deaths were in nursing homes.
Phase 1a of the vaccinations followed the data. It concentrated on health care professionals and nursing homes. CVS and Walgreens have completed first-dose vaccinations in nursing homes. In a few weeks, we should see nursing home deaths drop dramatically.
Phase 1b initially followed the data when it was to concentrate on age 75 and older. But Phase 1b got massively modified to include nearly half of all Virginia. The data is clear. Those 75 and older must now be top priority. Next comes those ages 65 and older. A few younger people with extremely high-risk medical conditions could also be vaccinated at this time.
The U.S. has 56 million people age 65 and older. Pfizer and Moderna plan to have 200 million doses ready by the end of March. This would be enough to administer two doses to all of the phase 1a participants and to everyone age 65 and older. This would greatly reduce deaths and lessen the chance that the ICUs would exceed capacity.