Azar believes 'vulnerable' populations should get vaccine first, but governors have final say

Azar believes 'vulnerable' populations should get vaccine first, but governors have final say

December 6, 2020

HHS Secretary Azar: Coronavirus vaccine could be distributed 24 hours after approval

The FDA will consider emergency authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar provides updates on ‘Fox News Sunday.’

The U.S. government has yet to provide guidance as to whom should receive the coronavirus vaccine first, but one official believes that “vulnerable” populations should see prioritization over essential workers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke about the COVID-19 vaccine during Sunday morning talk shows, outlining a possible timeline for approval and distribution.

ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopolous asked Azar about the issue of prioritizing vaccinations, citing a “tension” between giving the vaccine first to either essential workers or vulnerable communities.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference in the briefing room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Azar said that he would prioritize the vulnerable populations.

“I’m very concerned about the vulnerable, personally,” Azar said.

“I’m very concerned about the elderly, I’m very concerned about ethnic and racial minority groups that have suffered such a disproportionate impact in terms of the burden of this disease, but I’m going to get the best advice possible in here before we make recommendations to our governors.”

Azar stressed that the governors will make the final decision as to prioritization of vaccine distribution.

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In the meantime, Azar urged Americans to maintain basic health policies: wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. Azar claimed that people were dropping their guard when at home or around friends and family, and remaining vigilant will be vital.

“We’re seeing these surging cases in the United States, but also in Germany, France, U.K., Spain – it’s about behavior and cold weather,” Azar told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “People are going indoors, they’re not minding the three W’s, they’re not wearing their face coverings.”

The three W's, according to the agency, are: Wear a mask, Wait 6 feet apart, and Wash your hands. 

“We’re engaged in indoor behaviors where we let our guard down,” Azar added. “We need people to renew their commitment.”

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Azar also labeled accusations that there are “problems” with the vaccine distribution plan as “just nonsense.”

“We have comprehensive plans from the CDC, working with 64 public health jurisdictions across the country as our governors have laid out very detailed plans that we have worked with them on,” Azar told Wallace.

“We are leveraging our retail pharmacies, our hospitals, our public health departments, our community health centers,” he added. “This is being micromanaged by the United States military as well as our incredible private sector.”

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“We’re leveraging the systems that are known and work here in the United States," he said.

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