Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill.— The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) commends the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC's) team of advisors on prioritizing frontline healthcare personnel and residents of long-term facilities for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

In a Dec. 3 letter to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), AANA CEO Randall D. Moore, DNP, MBA, CRNA, recommended that anesthesia professionals, such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), remain at the top of the vaccine prioritization distribution.

“CRNAs have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, handling high-acuity situations and caring for critically ill patients. Providing them access to the COVID-19 vaccine will greatly support their ability to continue to care for patients during the second COVID-19 wave and beyond,” Moore wrote.

Moore told the ACIP that CRNAs are integral in the critical care setting, providing airway management, ventilator support, vascular volume resuscitation, and advanced patient assessment for COVID-19-positive patients.

“As highly-skilled anesthesia experts, CRNAs’ sedation, anesthesia, and pain management services are needed by all patients in all settings. Therefore, a healthy and immune anesthesia workforce will be critical to facilitate continued surgical, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures as well as to care for those critically ill from COVID-19,” Moore wrote.

CRNAs are in close contact with a patient’s airway during intubation, anesthesia delivery, and extubation, increasing their potential exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus through droplet or aerosol routes.

As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs are licensed as independent practitioners who plan and deliver anesthesia, pain management, and related care to patients of all health complexities across the lifespan. CRNAs practice in hospitals, nonoperating room anesthetizing areas, ambulatory surgical centers, and office-based settings. They provide all types of anesthesia-related care for surgical, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures. CRNAs provide anesthesia for all specialties including, but not limited to, general, obstetric, trauma, cardiac, orthopedic, gastrointestinal, dental, and plastic surgery. CRNAs are often the sole anesthesia professionals delivering care to the military, rural, and medically underserved populations.