The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce the new guidelines at noon.
With a surging case load of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and a lagging distribution of the authorized vaccines, the Trump administration has called for a larger population to be eligible for the therapies, in an attempt to thwart the rising levels of cases that are at their highest yet.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, more than 375,000 people have died in the United states, with the recent number of daily deaths reaching an unprecedented 4,000 people.
The department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is anticipated to issue a statement that changes the guidelines to include all those over the age of 65 to be able to get the vaccines. The update also includes all adults with pre-existing conditions to now be eligible, due to the fact that they are more likely to develop a more serious illness from the virus.
The changes in the guidelines come just days after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his administration made an announcement that that they would release all available doses of the vaccine, in order to get more people a first dose. They also stated that they would distribute them more rapidly at federally run vaccination sites, including sports stadiums, mobile units and high school gymnasiums, to reach high-risk populations.
Currently, the vaccines are being reserved for those in the highest-risk categories, like healthcare workers and those in nursing homes. The administration additionally said that they will increase the list of places where people can get vaccinated, adding more community centers and pharmacies.
The call to use all existing supplies of the vaccines has been criticized by investigators and doctors alike. Objections raised have included that the vaccine will not reach its full efficacy if two does are not received. There is a concern that if more doses are administered, that there may be a potential shortage, in which case those who received their first round may not get the second within the recommended time frame.