As a shortage of Covid-19 shots slows vaccination efforts in the West, groups that haven’t been given high priority are increasingly jostling for the right to get immunized first.
In most countries that are currently deploying vaccines, those most at risk of dying or getting seriously ill from the virus—nursing home residents and those caring for them, medical workers and the elderly—have been at the front of the queue.
For months, few questioned the wisdom of a strategy focused on reducing the number of deaths rather than slowing the spread of the virus. But as the weeks roll on, infections remain high and fears grow about the new variants of the virus, groups ranging from essential workers to teachers and people with chronic diseases are growing louder in demanding to be next.
In the U.S., where the vaccination effort started early and has moved relatively fast, many states are moving to immunize those 65 and older as well as people with certain health conditions. Following pressure from interest groups, a few have now started inoculating teachers or farmworkers.
In Europe, where vaccination is progressing painfully slowly because of a mixture of bureaucracy and vaccine-manufacturing hiccups, calls for less vulnerable groups to be given fast-track access are gathering force.