Fedweek

As inoculations with the newly approved Coronavirus vaccine have begun—with a second vaccine on the verge of final approval—details continue to emerge regarding availability specifically for federal employees.

Overall, top priority for the amount currently available is being given to frontline medical personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. The federal agencies with the most medical field employees, VA’s Veterans Health Administration and DoD’s Defense Health Agency, have similarly designated those employees as top priority, along with residents of care facilities they operate.

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Initial shipments are going out based on state populations although there has been no accounting of how much is going directly to federal agencies including the Bureau of Prisons, State Department and Indian Health Service in addition to the DoD and the VA.

The VA this week released a distribution plan starting at 37 medical centers chosen for their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures, as the vaccine requires. Top priority is for staff and residents of VA community living centers and spinal cord injury/diseases centers, followed by emergency department/emergency medical services employees; covid intensive care unit and inpatient staff; other staff providing face-to-face care and services for covid patients; and staff and residents in other congregate living settings.

Following that are more than a dozen more gradations, ranging from “core staff critical to function of the hospital and the covid response” to veterans younger than age 50.

Meanwhile, DoD officials said at a media briefing that distribution there is to start at 16 facilities, three of which are outside the U.S., chosen for the same reasons the VA cited.

A DoD chart shows that first priority is for “all healthcare providers, healthcare support, emergency services and public safety personnel,” which is may include military and federal “non-clinical staff authorized to receive vaccine from the DoD supporting patient care with a high risk of exposure or potential to interface with COVID-19 positive case.”

The following priorities will be for those involved with “critical national capabilities,” personnel preparing to deploy outside the contiguous states, “other critical and support personnel,” “high-risk beneficiaries” and finally “healthy population.”

An initial amount of some 44,000 doses will cover about a tenth of civilian and military personnel in those categories, the officials said.

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