How each state’s healthcare workers fare under Operation Warp Speed’s initial vaccine plan

Wyoming, Nevada among winners; DC, Massachusetts shortchanged

Last night, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted for vaccination in the “1A” phase of the COVID-19 vaccine program to be offered to both health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. In light of the influential panel’s decision, Surgo Foundation urged governors to utilize available data to ensure that their states’ limited vaccine supplies will go as far as they can toward protecting critical healthcare workers.

“We’re concerned by Operation Warp Speed’s recommendation to deliver the first 6.4 million vaccine doses to states not based on prioritized risk groups, but on a state’s adult population,” said Dr. Sema Sgaier, co-founder and executive director of Surgo Foundation.

“lgnoring the data on where priority groups live and work is neither fair nor strategic. As a nurse working on the COVID-19 frontlines, why should your chances of getting vaccinated depend on whether you happen to live in West Virginia or Wyoming?”

Crunching the numbers for the initial 6.4 million vaccine doses Operation Warp Speed has suggested deploying to states finds that only 17% of the nation’s highest-priority healthcare workers will get the vaccine under this scenario.

And if vaccines are allocated based on the size of a state’s adult population, not all states will achieve even this meager amount of coverage — some states with lower numbers of health care workers, like Wyoming, will be able to vaccinate 23% of its health care workers, while others, with more healthcare workers per capita, will cover far less. Massachusetts, for example, will only cover 12 percent of its critical healthcare workers with the vaccine, and the District of Columbia will only cover 11 percent. (See chart.)

We conducted our analysis using the free, open-access vaccine allocation planning tool that they recently developed in partnership with Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

They released a breakdown of how states’ health workers fare under the Operation Warp Speed plan to show the winners and losers among healthcare workers:

“By this Friday, states need to place their initial orders for the Pfizer vaccine and determine where they want them to be delivered,” Sgaier noted. “Our hope is that they will use the free, open-source Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 to inform that important decision. It allows them to simulate different distribution scenarios and get valuable, county-level estimates for high-priority populations.”

“In order to ensure widespread acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, it is essential that the general public believes that distribution is equitable and efficient,” said Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, Director of Vaccine Delivery at Ariadne Labs and Associate Physician, Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Prioritizing health care workers is an important step in establishing trust and confidence in a vaccine.”

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