FDA advisory panel says vaccinating by age groups is unfair to communities of color

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 03, 2021

A panel of vaccination experts for the FDA says states shouldn’t keep stepping down COVID-19 vaccine priority groups by age.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is comprised of health experts and advises the FDA, they endorsed the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday.

Many states prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for people over 75, then stepped down to 70, 65 and now some states are beginning to allow younger age groups priority access to the vaccine.

On Monday, the committee said this approach is inherently unfair to communities of color, according to USA Today.

Data shows that Black Americans havelower life expectancies than white Americans, by nearly 6 years on average; and Black and Hispanic Americans are contracting and dying of COVID-19 at younger ages on average than white Americans - into their 40s and 30s.

"I'm not in favor of any part of an age eligibility bracket under 65," said Dr. José Romero, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock and chairman of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The committee also disagrees with plans in some states to require people to show proof they have two medical conditions included on a list before they could be vaccinated.

During their meeting on Monday, the committee discussed the challenges of having a pre-specified list of “high-risk” conditions, since that list would be limited to data from the CDC and published studies about COVID-19, and would not be an exhaustive list.

The committee discussed that having a severe case of one medical condition could make a person more susceptible to a serious case of COVID-19, compared to a person with two, managed and under control medical conditions.