As expected, the state of California on Wednesday allowed immediate access to COVID-19 vaccines to residents 65 years of age and older under new federal government guidelines, but Los Angeles County will continue to prioritize healthcare professionals before sharing doses with others.
“There is no priority over the effective and fair distribution of these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the most severe consequences,” Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the revision of the state guidelines. “People aged 65 and over are now another group eligible for vaccines. For those who are not yet eligible for vaccination, it’s your turn. We’re doing everything we can to get more vaccines in the state. ”
Acting on recommendations originally developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states have given the highest priority to frontline healthcare workers who receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Most states are still working on giving injections to healthcare professionals, but the slow pace of their administration has led to calls for more people to be authorized to take the doses.
Federal authorities on Tuesday called on states to increase the availability of vaccines and offer them to anyone 65 or older, as well as those over the age of 16 who have conditions that make them vulnerable to serious COVID diseases.
The new state guidelines only apply to those age 65 and older. It does not increase the eligibility of people with underlying medical conditions.
Orange County announced Tuesday that it would immediately offer vaccines to people 65 and older, acting against the state’s revised guidelines. Long Beach health officials announced Tuesday that they would start offering vaccines to residents 75 and older than Saturday, and clinics would open weekly to people in this age group. Angeles, California weather forecast at 6:01 PST on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health for Los Angeles County, said the county did not immediately have sufficient doses of the vaccine to extend distribution to those 65 and over. She said the county’s top priority was to vaccinate healthcare workers, hoping to deliver doses to another 500,000 such workers by the end of the month.
“We asked the state to give us more vaccines so we can use other partners … to be able to open up to vaccinations for people aged 65 and older sooner than in early February, when we planned to fill health care workers and then transfer one, she said. “We haven’t heard any surprise from the state about the availability of vaccines and how they are distributed.”
By state, a website is being created where people will sign up to receive email notifications of when they will be eligible for shots. Los Angeles County already has an e-mail system set up to register to receive updated information on vaccine distribution. You can register vaccinatelacounty.com.
Newsom said on Monday that the state has only administered about a third of the nearly 2.5 million doses of vaccines it has received so far. Some delay is attributed to fluctuations among some health professionals on the Phase 1A priority list to be vaccinated, leading to the suggestion that doses should be administered more quickly to those on the lower levels of the job list.
Ferrer said it is likely that all health workers on Phase 1A of the priority list will be fully vaccinated by the end of January. At the end of this phase, the county will move to phase 1B. The start of this phase will now include people aged 65 and over, and selected essential workers such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture in early February.
Younger residents with serious conditions do not qualify for Phase 1C, which Ferrer believes is likely to begin in late March.
Changes come as several large-scale immunization centers open in Southern California. The Dodger Stadium will open later this week as a drive-thru vaccination center – for the time being reserved for healthcare professionals only. The Disneyland Parking lot in Anaheim and Petco Park in San Diego are also used as vaccination clinics. Vaccines will also be administered at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The state has already loosened vaccine priorities once. Last week, it approved vaccines for all categories of health professionals included in Phase 1A of the prioritization plan, not just for hospital workers and other frontline workers at the top of the list.