A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel voted 13-1 to recommend these two groups get priority while doses are in short supply in the early weeks.
Burden of disease figured prominently in the decision to bring nursing home residents into the ambit early. CDC experts noted that 40 percent of the deaths in the US have been among those in long term care facilities.
The Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorised emergency use of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That decision is likely to be taken between December 10-17. Both vaccines have shown more than 90 percent effectiveness in large scale studies.
The first shipments of Pfizer's vaccine are set to be delivered to states within two weeks, CNN reported today, quoting documents sourced from Operation Warp Speed - the Trump government's vaccine coordination program.
Health care workers and residents of long term care facilities account for a little less than 25 million people out of America's total population of 330 million.
Between Pfizer and Moderna, a total of 40 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be available by the end of 2020.
The coronavirus has killed more than 270,000 Americans and sickened more than 13 million since it first entered the country early this year.