Debate rages over who should be next in line for vaccine

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Chicago — There is some debate over who should be among the 50 million Americans in line for the next wave of coronavirus vaccines. States are beginning to make their own priority lists, while labor unions say their members should go first. 

We’re nearly two weeks in with more than 600,000 vaccines administered, including the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, who received the vaccine Tuesday. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the next group should be those 75 and older and frontline essential workers — but that’s 49 million people. So far, just under 5 million doses have been delivered. 

Sylvia Tanguma, who heads the teacher’s union in McAllen, Texas, said she feels like she’s in competition with other essential workers for the vaccine. Tanguma eats in her car so that she doesn’t remove her mask at school. 

On Monday, Texas announced the next group to be vaccinated will be those either 65 and older or at high risk — not teachers as a whole. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott “needs to consider how many teachers we have and how badly we are needed,” Tanguma said. 

After studying New York’s surge, the CDC found that corrections officers are most exposed, which is why Anthony McGee, of Chicago, thinks they should get priority. 

“They have to pass out medicine,” said McGee, who is the vice president of Teamsters Local 700. “They have to pass out food. There is no way for our members not to have direct contact with inmates.” 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty says the order of vaccinations must both be ethical and strategic. 

“You vaccinate the right group of people, you are going to flatten the curve faster,” Marty said. 

But the CDC says even those next in line will be waiting at least a month. 

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