Health groups pledge transparency about COVID-19 vaccine plans

Health groups pledge transparency about COVID-19 vaccine plans
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Top health groups on Tuesday pledged to be open and transparent about their plans for vaccinating communities across the country against the coronavirus.

In an open letter to the American public, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association said they are committed to establishing and sharing safe and effective processes for administering a COVID-19 vaccine.

The letter comes as a federal advisory board is set to vote on recommendations to states about which groups to prioritize during the extremely limited initial rollout of a vaccine. 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee is likely to recommend front-line health workers and residents of long-term care facilities receive the first doses once the government authorizes a vaccine for distribution. 

The Food and Drug Administration is likely to clear the first vaccine later this month, with distribution to start immediately.

States face a Friday deadline to submit final details to the federal government on where they want a vaccine to be delivered once one is authorized. Hospitals, nurses and doctors will likely be tasked with carrying out the massive vaccination effort.

In order to have the needed impact on COVID-19, at least 70 percent of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated, and many people have expressed concerns about the risks of such a new vaccine. 

The health groups on Tuesday pledged to "share the benefits and risks of a vaccine so that you can make an informed decision for yourself and your loved ones."

In addition, the groups urged the public to continue following basic public health precautions until a vaccine is widely available. While some of the first priority groups will likely be vaccinated this month, a COVID-19 vaccine is not likely to be widely available until next spring or summer.

"Until our population has been broadly immunized, we continue urging that you protect yourself and others from the virus" by wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping physically distant from others, the groups wrote.