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Survey: Health workers, kids, older adults should get COVID-19 vaccine first

Survey: Health workers, kids, older adults should get COVID-19 vaccine first
If COVID-19 vaccine supplies are limited, front-line health workers, children and older adults at high risk should get priority, a new survey finds. Photo by marcolohpsoares/Pixabay

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Front-line healthcare workers, children and older adults should receive priority if or when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, according to the result of a survey of U.S. adults published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open.

Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated that front-line clinicians treating patients infected with the new coronavirus should be vaccinated first, while 81% said younger people and seniors need to be at or near the top of the list, the data showed.

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Since the start of the pandemic, health workers and older adults have been at increased risk for infection compared to other demographic groups.

Although children generally have lower risk, youngsters who are infected face the possibility serious complications, including Kawasaki-like disease.

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"Our findings demonstrate that Americans do perceive that high risk of death is an important criterion for vaccine allocation," study co-author Sarah Gollust, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota, told UPI.

Several potential vaccines against COVID-19 are in clinical trials in the United States and around the world. Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted that a viable vaccine would be available to "all Americans" by April.

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For their research, Gollust and her colleagues surveyed 1,007 American adults between April 23 and 27, when the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States still was in its early stages.

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Other groups identified by respondents as warranting priority for available vaccines included "middle-aged" adults at high risk, for 75% of respondents, and non-medical "essential" workers, for 72% of respondents. Sixty-four percent of respondents also said pregnant women should be considered a priority for the vaccine.

"Unfortunately, it's hard to judge the public's understanding of vaccine limitations from this study," Gollust said.

"In the survey, we told all respondents that 'at least at first, there may not be enough to go around,' so all respondents who answered the survey would have read this, but we can't assess from this study whether they were already aware of this idea, though."

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