Thursday, March 25, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Line Opening to 50-Plus Next Week, 16-Plus April 15

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge Patients at the St. John's Well Child And Family Center in South Los Angeles were inoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. - PHOTO BY SHAE HAMMOND FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Shae Hammond for CalMatters
  • Patients at the St. John's Well Child And Family Center in South Los Angeles were inoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that California residents age 50 and older will join the ranks of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning April 1, with all individuals 16 years and older entering the line on April 15.

“With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” Newsom said in a release. “We remain focused on equity as we extend vaccine eligibility to those older than 50 starting April 1, and those older than 16 starting April 15. This is possible thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to get shots into arms.”

But, officials cautioned, getting shots in the arms of those who are interested could still take months.

“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a release. “However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down. It is important that we remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance.”

Efforts will be made to reach higher risk populations, including those 65 and older as well as certain employment sectors, before shifting to a blanketed roll-out process over the next few weeks, the release states, while continuing to double vaccine allotments to ZIP codes, including some in Humboldt, based on their low scores on the “Healthy Places Index,” which measures criteria such as income, education, park access, air pollution and housing.

Read the full release from the governor’s office below:

SACRAMENTO – With supply of vaccines expected to significantly increase in the coming weeks, the state is expanding vaccine eligibility to more Californians. Starting April 1, individuals aged 50+ will be eligible to make an appointment, and individuals 16+ will be eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated starting on April 15.

“With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” said Governor Newsom. “We remain focused on equity as we extend vaccine eligibility to those older than 50 starting April 1, and those older than 16 starting April 15. This is possible thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to get shots into arms.”

Based on the current estimates, California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April. California currently receives about 1.8 million doses per week. These estimates may be adjusted as time goes on. The state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week, and is building the capacity to administer 4 million vaccines weekly by the end of April.

“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down. It is important that we remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance.”

In addition to increased allocations of vaccines to providers serving the hardest hit communities, the state has embarked on a series of initiatives to vaccinate those populations that have faced the highest rates of COVID infections before vaccines become available to the entire 16+ population. These efforts include:

Provider funding for programs to reach and vaccinate communities facing the biggest health disparities

Working with organized labor to reach essential workers

Partnering with agricultural organizations and community-based organizations to vaccinate agricultural workers

Allowing providers to target by ZIP code via My Turn with single-use codes (scheduled to launch at the end of March)

Supporting a subset of community-based organizations currently partnering with the state on COVID-19 education to provide direct vaccination appointment assistance

Prioritizing currently eligible populations and allowing providers the discretion to vaccinate those who live in high-impact areas (County Healthy Places Index Quartiles 1 and 2), including families

Even with expanded vaccine supplies, it is expected to take several months for willing Californians to be vaccinated. Based on public information shared by vaccine manufacturers and the federal government, California expects to receive several million vaccine doses per week starting sometime in April.

Along with the expanded eligibility and to align with upcoming federal guidance, California will update its vaccine allocation methodology. This will transition over four weeks, beginning with the March 22 allocation (delivered to providers the following week), from one based on the distribution of the 65+ population, workers in the agriculture and food, education and childcare, and emergency services sectors to one based on the distribution of the 16+ population across California. This will be done in conjunction with completion of the shift to the state directly allocating vaccines to providers. The state will continue to double the amount of vaccine allocated to the lowest Healthy Places Index (HPI) quartile as announced on March 4.

Forty percent of COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred in the lowest quartile of the HPI, developed by the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, which provides overall scores and data that predict life expectancy and compares community conditions that shape health across the state. The rate of infections for households making less than $40,000 per year (5.7) is 84 percent higher than that of households with an income of $120,000 or more (3.1). At the same time, California’s wealthiest populations have received 50 percent more vaccinations when compared to the rate of our most vulnerable populations. This approach recognizes that the pandemic did not affect California communities equally and that the state is committed to doing better.
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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