By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Currently, COVID-19 in America is killing 3,000 people every day. What follows is an analysis of the Center for Disease Control’s policy regarding who should be vaccinated first. In this author’s opinion, and in the opinions of numerous doctors and expert statisticians with whom this author has consulted, the CDC policy is morally and halachically bankrupt. If one carefully examines the mission statement of the CDC, one will see that the raison d’etre of the CDC is to maximize the saving of life. L’havdil, the parameters of halacha are also intended to maximize the saving of life.

But that is not what is happening here with the vaccination system that has been implemented. Young, healthy people with antibodies are being given the vaccine, even before the elderly and those most at risk. Locally, two caretakers of an elderly woman have been given the vaccine — long before the woman they are taking care of.


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

On December 3, the CDC made recommendations to the federal government, the state governments, and the local governments about who should be vaccinated first. These were called Phase 1A recipients. These recommendations were based on those made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts.

The three thoughts this author would like to share are as follows:

  1. The recommendations are wrong.
  2. At the current rate of deaths in this country, the recommendations are killing an extra 500 people per day. They will kill thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people
  3. There is still time to change them.


The determination as to who should be vaccinated first should be made with only one factor in mind: to maximize the saving of life. This means if option A will save 4,200 lives a week, and the option that the CDC has chosen will save 700 lives, then the policy is responsible for the death of 3,500 people a week, which translates to 182,000 people per year. Those most at risk for dying and the elderly should receive the vaccine first; this should be the only criterion.

The CDC website states that their recommendations were made with these three goals in mind:

  1. Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.
  2. Preserve functioning of society.
  3. Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is putting on people already facing disparities.

The problem is that goal #2 and goal #3 undermine goal #1. The scandal that has happened in Brooklyn should be an eye-opener to the real scandal that is occurring. It should be a clarion call to all doctors, presidents, clergymen, and everyone who values life to change the criteria.

Currently, healthcare personnel and residents of long-term-care facilities are offered the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines (Phase 1a). Healthcare personnel are less at risk for dying of COVID-19. According to those with a background in statistics, this decision will cause many thousands of deaths each week. True, the healthcare workers are heroes and they will be discussed later in this article. But, once again, those most at risk for dying should receive the vaccine first.

Recent Recommendations

On December 22, the CDC recommended those who should be included in Phases 1b and 1c.

1b will include frontline essential workers such as:

  1. firefighters
  2. police officers
  3. corrections officers
  4. food and agricultural workers
  5. United States Postal Service workers
  6. manufacturing workers
  7. grocery store workers
  8. public transit workers
  9. those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers)

Really? What madness has entered the minds of the people making such decisions? The emperor has no clothes. Who are they to place value on one life over the other? Who made this decision, and why is this not the scandal of the century? Where is the media? Where are the doctors who are trained in statistics?

Has the entire world gone stark raving mad?

In the 1b phase, the CDC recommendations include people ages 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People ages 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.

In Phase 1c, the CDC includes people ages 65–74 “because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People ages 65–74 years who are also residents of long-term-care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.”

In 1c, the CDC includes people 16–64 years of age with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

Again, a grave error; this group should have been included in 1a.

Who else is in 1c? They are other essential workers, such as:

  1. people who work in transportation and logistics,
  2. food service,
  3. housing construction and finance,
  4. information technology,
  5. communications,
  6. energy,
  7. law,
  8. media,
  9. public safety,
  10. public health.

This is sheer madness and a deeply immoral policy. We have thrown out all the logic of triaging and have adopted “politically correct” notions of who shall live and who shall die. If ever there were a time for President Trump to step in and stop this insanity, it is now. It will be his greatest legacy. In addition to all this, even those with antibodies are getting the vaccine while others who are so at risk are not.

The Statisticians Speak

There are approximately 30 million essential workers. There are 540 daily deaths in the 25–65 age range; we are assuming that they comprise 18 percent of these deaths and that they are no more likely than other members of that age range to be infected.

The CDC publishes data on the distribution of nationwide deaths by age as of a recent date in December. See

That produced the following distribution of deaths by age range:

  • 0% Under 1 year
  • 0% 1-4 years
  • 0% 5-14 years
  • 0% 15-24 years
  • 1% 25-34 years
  • 2% 35-44 years
  • 5% 45-54 years
  • 12% 55-64 years
  • 21% 65-74 years
  • 27% 75-84 years
  • 32% 85 years and over

Keep in mind that this is the percentage contribution of deaths regardless of whether people had underlying conditions. COVID deaths are currently in the 3,000-per-day range nationwide. If we distribute those 3,000 deaths according to the above percentages, we get the following:

  • Under 1 year 0.32
  • 1-4 years 0.19
  • 5-14 years 0.51
  • 15-24 years 4.81
  • 25-34 years 20.99
  • 35-44 years 54.48
  • 45-54 years 145.23
  • 55-64 years 359.54
  • 65-74 years 640.40
  • 75-84 years 819.76
  • 85 years and over 953.78

Total daily deaths 3,000

We see that ages 25–64 are contributing about 580 deaths per day while the 65–74 range is contributing 640 deaths per day.

An AARP article lays out some numbers for the respective groups in the CDC prioritization: . It says that there are about 30 million “frontline essential workers” and about 28 million Americans in the 65–74 range. The U.S. population by age indicates that the population from 25 to 64 years old is approximately 170 million (Wikipedia).





Assuming that the 30 million frontline essential workers are largely in the 25–64 age range, they represent about 18% percent of the total population in that range and would only be contributing about 100 deaths per day.

There are a variety of nuances that would arguably change the precise numbers, including overlap in the populations and different risk profiles of subpopulations. According to this, prioritizing frontline essential workers in front of ages 64–75 would appear to be prioritizing a population segment contributing roughly 100 deaths a day over a segment contributing over 600 deaths per day.

The argument has been made that healthcare workers should receive it first because otherwise no one will be there to help those who are sick. This is not likely to be true. I witnessed their selflessness firsthand in the hospital, and our healthcare workers are the real heroes of COVID-19; they would do their work anyway. We are underestimating the nature and character of our healthcare workers. And by doing so, we have adopted a policy that will kill tens of thousands.

Declaration of Independence

The CDC must not forget the words of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Let’s go back to that first of the three: Life. Life comes before all. The CDC, in this murderous, politically correct policy, is depriving Americans of their inalienable right — the right to live. This policy must be changed. We are causing the deaths of 500 Americans each day.

The Halacha

The concept of healing the one who is most at risk is found in the Pri Megadim of Rav Yosef Teumim (O.C. 328) in his Mishbetzes Halachah #1. In terms of halachah, the entire idea of placing the young before the old is incorrect. This is explicit in the Igros Moshe (C.M. Vol. II #75:7) of Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l. It is also in the Minchas Shlomo of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt’l (M.T. 2-3 Siman 86), as well as the Even Bochen Migdal Oz #85 of the Yaavetz.

It is this author’s view that it is our moral duty to point out this ethical failure of the CDC and get it changed as soon as possible. The governor can also choose to implement or ignore the words of the CDC. Doctors trained in statistics, clergymen, public policy politicians who can consult statisticians: Where are you? We should be lobbying Governor Cuomo now.

Rabbi Yair Hoffman can be reached at




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