A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will determine who will be first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The panel is set to vote on the issue Tuesday.
Scientists and infectious disease experts have debated who will be the first to receive the vaccine ever since the coronavirus outbreak began about 11 months ago.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, nearly 40 million doses of the vaccine will be available by the end of this year, enough to inoculate roughly 20 million people.
As manufacturing ramps up, initial doses will be limited. Top U.S. health officials predict it will take months to immunize everyone who wants to be vaccinated.
The White House's coronavirus testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said that the Trump administration is aiming to "immunize for impact."
"That means immunizing those who are at the highest risk, like those in long-term care facilities, the elderly, minorities. We can absolutely get 80% of the benefit of the vaccine by only immunizing a few percent of the population," said Giroir. "The rest of America will get it in the second quarter, third quarter of 2021, but we could maximize our impact right now."
The CDC advisory committee said the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines "should maximize the benefits of vaccination to both individual recipients and the population overall."
"These benefits include the reduction of SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19–associated morbidity and mortality, which in turn reduces the burden on strained health care capacity and facilities; preservation of services essential to the COVID-19 response; and maintenance of overall societal functioning," it said in a report.
As pharmaceutical companies and airlines prepare for broad distribution, the Federal Aviation Administration said it supports the "first mass air shipment" of vaccines.