The federal government could move essential workers closer to the front of the line for receiving a potential coronavirus vaccine, pushing back seniors ages 65 or older and people with high-risk conditions. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization announced support this week for a proposal that would move essential workers higher for vaccine prioritization, according to a report by STAT News. Healthcare workers and long-term care residents would still be first in line ahead of them.

“These essential workers are out there putting themselves at risk to allow the rest of us to socially distance. And they come from disadvantaged situations, they come from disadvantaged communities,” said Beth Bell, ACIP member and global health expert. 

She added that justification for the move centers around the need to get people of color vaccinated early in the process since they’re at higher risk of contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19. Similar research in nursing homes has also found that race is a big factor in coronavirus outbreaks and deaths at facilities.

“We need to provide them with the opportunity early on in the process,” she said. “This is an important message to be sending.”

The advisory panel is expected to vote and approve official recommendations for vaccine prioritization after one is approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, the report explained. The CDC is also expected to sign off on the panel’s suggestions soon after.