The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued more detailed recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, indicating that “veterinary services” should be included in Phase I-b of the vaccine rollout.
The CDC used guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to map essential industries to specific phases of the vaccine rollout, with the goal of helping state, territorial, and local officials allocate limited COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
This is welcome news for the veterinary profession. The AVMA has worked and continues to work collaboratively at the national level to help key federal agencies understand the importance of veterinary services and the need for early veterinary access to COVID-19 vaccines. We’ve been successful in getting veterinary services classified as essential and critical, followed now by this recommended vaccination priority classification in Phase I-b.
The mapped list categorizes workers based on industry, rather than occupation. Because actual work functions may impact an individual’s exposure risk, there may be further subcategorization based on a person’s inability to work remotely and the need to work in close proximity to others when determining priorities for vaccine access. Subcategories of essential workers also may need to be prioritized differently depending on local needs.
What this means for veterinary teams
Final decisions about priorities for administration of COVID-19 vaccines are being made at the state and territorial level, so vaccine availability for veterinary personnel will vary based on location. However, federal recommendations play an important role in guiding those decisions by local officials. While the more detailed CDC recommendations don’t guarantee veterinarians will be included in Phase I-b in every state or territory, they’re a positive development.
Advocating for access
Many states previously have indicated they planned to include veterinary personnel in Phase I-a, -b, or -c of their rollouts. But these plans remain in flux. AVMA continues to work hand in hand with state and local veterinary groups to advocate for veterinary teams’ access. Individual veterinary professionals can connect with their state and local associations to obtain information about vaccine prioritization in their area, and to learn about how to best support local efforts to ensure appropriate access.
Vaccination resources for veterinary practices
AVMA’s COVID-19 resource center has resources to help veterinary teams prepare for the vaccine rollout:
Find a full suite of COVID-19 resources at avma.org/Coronavirus.