The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voted on Thursday to recommend Pfizer’s COVID vaccine should be used on an emergency basis. The vaccine has yet to be authorized by the FDA, but the panel’s approval for emergency use is a promising sign. If approved, the first recipients would be health care workers and nursing home residents, which could start as early as next week.

The advisory panel spent time reviewing data from Pfizer’s vaccine trials and shared their opinions and thoughts with the FDA. While the FDA is not required to follow the panel’s advice, their recommendations are influential in the decision-making process.

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“After we receive recommendations, we will incorporate that into our decision,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn shared with CBS. “We hope shortly thereafter, once we have the recommendations, we can make our own decision.”

CDC senior official Nancy Messonnier explained that there would be “active surveillance systems” in place to track any side effects that resulted from the vaccine had occurred, as well as monitoring how the vaccine effects specific demographics or communities.

“Understand that vaccine safety and effective monitoring is a top priority for the U.S. government and we’re committed to ensuring that all these systems are in place and ready to go as soon as the vaccine program is implemented,” Messonnier shared with the panel.

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