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With COVID-19 vaccine doses still in short supply, the decision of how to prioritize immunizations is becoming an increasingly fraught matter as officials must choose among many groups, each with its own desperate need to get to the front of the line.

Focusing on older people, the disabled and others at higher risk of becoming critically ill from the coronavirus has the potential to save many lives. Reserving doses for essential workers would also help slow the spread of COVID-19. And moving educators to a higher position could make teachers willing to return to campus for in-person instruction.

“What’s so difficult right now is that we even have to view this as competing priorities. There’s all this tension on shifting priorities in groups, and all of this is based on a limited supply,” said Dr. Eve Glazier, president of the Faculty Practice Group at UCLA Health. “There’s a lot of different lenses to look at it.”

So far, a number of California‘s most populous counties have generally prioritized healthcare workers, those living in long-term care settings and people 65 and older for vaccinations. The state is getting only a fraction of the vaccine it needs, so it will probably take weeks or months to get through those groups.

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