Who gets vaccinated first?

Discussion around a COVID-19 vaccine seems to have accelerated over the past month, especially after the federal government put the Oxford vaccine on the agenda.

Both the Oxford vaccine and the University of Queensland vaccine candidates have stressed that their fixes are easy to mass produce but, given the global demand once a vaccine is found, who should be given first access while supply is limited.

As well as working on the vaccines, researchers are also placing a great deal of attention on the optimal method of distributing them once a successful one is discovered, and the latest study is good news for older Australians.

According to the study from Washington University, the ideal inoculation policy would emphasise age as a primary consideration, more so than occupation risk.

The study found the key that unlocks the mystery to potentially optimal vaccine distribution is age.

“We expected that age would be a driving factor in allocating vaccines,” said Professor Ana Babus, who co-authored the report on The Optimal Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines.

“But we have also learnt that it may be better to vaccinate, say, a 50-year-old bus driver instead of even a 30-year-old healthcare worker, when vaccine doses are limited.”

The researchers concluded that age meant more than occupation by estimating age-based and work-based infection risks, using estimated age-based fatality rates.

The modelling took account of various different factors including stay-at-home orders, designating different professions as essential and other measures to try and limit the possible spread of workplace infection.

The findings for the best optimal allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine found that all employed people aged 60 and over would receive the vaccine and in many occupations people would receive the vaccine from age 50.

The largest volume of vaccines would be allocated to populations aged 5059, followed by those 6069.

Even if a limited vaccine were allocated optimally, the model showed that 1.37 per cent of the employed workforce would still be expected to get infected until a vaccine becomes widely available. Those numbers are based on a vaccine that was 50 per cent effective.

The model only considers the possibility of infection exposure in the workplace, and the authors believe that if people face the same infection risk in their social and home life that the analysis tilts “even more towards the elderly”.

Who do you think should get first access to a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available?

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Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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