Here's How to Tell When You'll Be Able to Get the COVID Vaccine

The vaccine may be ready before the year is out, but that doesn't mean you'll get it then.

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Early on in the pandemic, some experts feared we would have to wait years for a vaccine. Thankfully, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently in the process of approving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for emergency use authorization—so a vaccine may actually arrive before the end of the year. That doesn't mean you'll be first in line to get it, however. So, when will it be your turn? The New York Times has created a database that will help you determine when you will be able to get the COVID vaccine. Keep reading to find out more about your personal timeline, and for more on the vaccine, These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.

Working with the Surge Foundation and Ariadne Labs, The New York Times created an interactive calculator to help determine the number of people who will need a vaccine in each state and county. By entering your age, county, profession, and COVID-related health risks, you can find out where you are in "line" for the vaccine.

For instance, a 25-year-old adult with no COVID-related health risks who is not a heath care worker, essential worker, first responder, or teacher falls in line behind 144.1 million American people. In comparison, a 65-year-old adult who has COVID-related health risks and lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility falls in line behind 17 million Americans.

With your location inputted, the tool can also estimate with more specificity where you fall in line when it comes to your county and state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on Dec. 1 to recommend a timeline for the vaccine rollout. Staring with health care workers, the general public will most likely be the last to receive the COVID vaccine.

That theoretical 25-year-old adult with no COVID-related health risks falls so far back in line because they will be the last to get the vaccine. To find out who might be in front of you in line, keep reading, and for more on the rollout, You Should Be Able to Get a COVID Vaccine by This Month, Dr. Fauci Says.

1
Health care personnel

Close-up of worried healthcare worker thinking at the hospital.
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Health care workers are battling COVID on the frontlines, caring for those already infected with the virus. The ACIP recommends that these workers get the first available round of the vaccine—especially since the CDC reported that there have been 263,970 cases among health care personnel and 892 deaths as of Dec. 10. And for more on the future of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci Just Gave a New Timeline for Returning to Normal Post-Vaccine.

2
Long-term care facility residents and workers

doctor talking to elderly patient wearing mask
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The ACIP also recommended that long-term care facility residents and workers be part of the initial rollout of the vaccine. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have experienced a disproportionately high number of coronavirus deaths during the pandemic because they house extremely vulnerable populations. According to The New York Times, nursing homes have seen more than 106,000 coronavirus deaths as of Dec. 4. And for more on the vaccine process, If You're This Age, You May Be Last to Get the COVID Vaccine, Fauci Says.

3
Essential workers

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The ACIP hasn't officially voted on a second phase of the rollout yet, but essential workers were previously listed as likely candidates for this phase, as published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Nov. 27. According to the CDC's early recommendations, this category includes many of the professionals whose ability to "remain healthy helps protect the health of others and/or minimiz[es] disruption to society and the economy." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4
Adults with high-risk medical conditions

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A third rollout wasn't voted on either, but it's been theorized that adults who are most vulnerable to COVID because of high-risk conditions will come after health care workers, nursing home inhabitants, and other essential workers. According to the CDC, this includes people with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and kidney disease, as well as immunocompromised persons. And for more on the current state of coronavirus in the U.S., These States Are Locking Down Again Amid COVID.

5
Adults over the age of 65

older man wearing mask in doctor's waiting room
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The last group of Americans who may get the vaccine before the general public could be those over the age of 65.  The CDC says this group is at high risk because of their age. And while this decision has yet to be voted on by the ACIP, some experts believe that states will potentially raise the minimum age to 75 to allow for the vaccination of other essential workers, The New York Times reported. And if you're wondering about your risk of getting sick before you're vaccinated, You're Most Likely to Get COVID Right Now, White House Says.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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