In an effort to speed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk of dying, California state officials on Wednesday announced that people 65 and over will be eligible to receive the vaccine sooner than had previously been planned.
Under new guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, people in Phase 1A of the state’s tiered system – health care workers and nursing home residents – are still eligible to receive vaccines. After those people are given vaccines, seniors 65 and older will be in the next group.
The state is setting up system to let people know if they are eligible to receive a vaccine, and if not yet eligible, to register for a notification via email or text when they are, Newsom’s office announced. That system is expected to launch next week.
A second phase of that system will help counties, cities and others run mass vaccination events at stadiums, fairgrounds and other locations. It will allow eligible members of the public to schedule vaccination appointments at those events. In addition to mass vaccination events, people also will be able to go to their doctor or pharmacy to receive the vaccine as more becomes available from the federal government, Newsom’s office said.
“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” Newsom said in a statement. “Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state.”
The change in policy comes one day after the Trump administration announced it was reversing course. The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday began recommending that states expand access to Covid-19 vaccines to everyone 65 and older to speed up vaccine rollout.
The Trump administration had promised that 50 million doses would be administered nationwide by the end of January through Operation Warp Speed, it’s vaccine program. But through Tuesday, it had delivered just 25 million doses nationwide, and just under 9 million shots had been given, according to the CDC.
The federal government’s priority system, ranked by occupation and risk, and California’s similar system, have been widely viewed as too cumbersome and slow.
(This story will be updated)
Contributed by local news sources