CDC panel recommends healthcare workers, nursing home residents get first COVID-19 vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel tasked with deciding who will first receive COVID-19 vaccines when they become available has recommended the nation's health care professionals and residents of long-term healthcare facilities get vaccinations first.

The group met Tuesday afternoon to vote on the order of who receives the vaccines.

Members of the advisory committee on immunization practices, an outside group of medical experts, recommended the nation's health care professionals and residents of long-term health care facilities fall under the Phase 1a group, which would make them the first group eligible for vaccinations.

The independent committee heard detailed presentations from its members, who weighed several factors.

Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Dr. Beth Bell, chair of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccines Work Group, delivered sobering statistics as the meeting got underway.

Dr. Bell said, "This is a particularly difficult time in the United States. We are averaging one COVID death per minute in the U.S. right now. In the time it takes us to have this meeting, 180 people will have died from COVID-19.

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage

Presenters told members of the advisory group that as of November 30, there were at least 243,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among the nation's health care personnel, with 858 deaths.

Long-term care facility residents and staff accounted for 6% of cases and 40% of deaths in the U.S. during the same period. One committee member asked necessary measures be taken to ensure health care workers that aren't employed by hospitals, or associated with health care systems, be included in Phase 1a vaccinations.

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.