Research

Prioritising workers for COVID vaccine most effective 

Academics and health researchers from the UK and Canada have found that vaccine programs that prioritise workers for the COVID-19 vaccine ‘consistently outperform’ those that do not. The researchers from the University of Manchester, Simon Fraser University and Canadian health agencies examined different vaccination strategies in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

They note “age-based rollouts are both less equitable and less effective than strategies that prioritise essential workers”. They demonstrated that strategies targeting essential workers earlier consistently outperform those that do not, and that prioritising essential workers provides a significant level of indirect protection for older adults.

The authors add: “This conclusion holds across numerous outcomes, including cases, hospitalisations, Long COVID, deaths and net monetary benefit, and over a range of possible values for the efficacy of vaccination against infection.” The researchers conclude: “Our analysis focuses on regimes where the pandemic continues to be controlled with distancing and other measures as vaccination proceeds, and where the vaccination strategy is expected to last for over the coming 6-8 months — for example British Columbia, Canada. In such a setting with a total population of 5 million, vaccinating essential workers sooner is expected to prevent over 200,000 infections, over 600 deaths, and to produce a net monetary benefit of over $500m.”

The vaccine rollout program in Australia is a combination of targeting essential workers first, followed quickly by those identified as being ‘high-risk’ due to age or underlying health conditions. This differs from the UK where the government has opted for an age-based rollout. 
Read more: Nicola Mulberry, et all Vaccine Rollout Strategies: The Case for Vaccinating Essential Workers Early. medRxiv 2021.02.23.21252309; (Preview) [abstract and full text]. Information on the UK program: JCVI interim statement on phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, 26 February 2021. Information on Australia's programSource: Risks 987

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