Background: This study presents a framework for determining the allocation and distribution of the limited amount of vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Methods: After analyzing the pandemic strategies of the major organizations and countries and with a literature review conducted by a core panel, a modified Delphi survey was administered to 13 experts in the fields of vaccination, infectious disease, and public health in the Republic of Korea. The following topics were discussed: 1) identifying the objectives of the vaccination strategy, 2) identifying allocation criteria, and 3) establishing a step-by-step vaccination framework and prioritization strategy based on the allocation criteria. Two rounds of surveys were conducted for each topic, with a structured questionnaire provided via e-mail in the first round. After analyzing the responses, a meeting with the experts was held to obtain consensus on how to prioritize the population groups. Results: The first objective of the vaccination strategy was maintenance of the integrity of the healthcare system and critical infrastructure, followed by reduction of morbidity and mortality and reduction of community transmission. In the initial phase, older adult residents in care homes, high-risk health and social care workers, and personal support workers who work in direct contact with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients would be prioritized. Expansion of vaccine supply would allow immunization of older adults not included in phase 1, followed by healthcare workers not previously included and individuals with comorbidities. Further widespread vaccine supply would ensure availability to the extended adult age groups (50–64 years old), critical workers outside the health sector, residents who cannot socially distance, and, eventually, the remaining populations. Conclusion: This survey provides the much needed insight into the decision-making process for vaccine allocation at the national level. However, flexibility in adapting to strategies will be essential, as new information is constantly emerging.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (grant number 2020-E2405-00).
© 2021 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.