Vaccine rollout strategies: The case for vaccinating essential workers early

In vaccination campaigns against COVID-19, many jurisdictions are using age-based rollout strategies, reflecting the much higher risk of severe outcomes of infection in older groups. In the wake of growing evidence that approved vaccines are effective at preventing not only adverse outcomes, but also infection, we show that such strategies are less effective than strategies that prioritize essential workers. This conclusion holds across numerous outcomes, including cases, hospitalizations, Long COVID (cases with symptoms lasting longer than 28 days), deaths and net monetary benefit. Our analysis holds in regions where the vaccine supply is limited, and rollout is prolonged for several months. In such a setting with a population of 5M, we estimate that vaccinating essential workers sooner prevents over 200,000 infections, over 600 deaths, and produces a net monetary benefit of over $500M.