The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) expanded the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to people over the age of 65 after frontline health care workers and residents in congregate care facilities are inoculated. The allocation change was made pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While the CDC guidance and CDPH actions offered hope and relief to nearly 6.2 million Californians over the age of 65, in reality it will take anywhere from 20 to 22 weeks to vaccinate everyone in that age group with the two required doses of the vaccine, according to California Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan during a recent vaccine advisory committee meeting. That means the first-tier vaccination group (which also includes health care workers and long-term care residents) will not be completed until June 2021.
Dr. Pan reported that California has received 4 million doses thus far and continues to receive between 400,000 to 500,000 doses per week from the federal government. Only 45% of those doses have been administered, which equates to approximately 1.5 million people being vaccinated. At this point, vaccine recipients are still required to receive two doses of the vaccine, but Dr. Pan expressed hope that an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a single dose vaccine will be requested in March.
Complicating matters was the state’s temporary hold on nearly 330,000 Moderna vaccines on Sunday after a higher than usual number of allergic reactions were reported at a clinic in San Diego. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup reviewed the matter in conjunction with the CDC and determined there was no scientific basis to continue the pause. Based on this review, the state hold has lifted, freeing up more supply.
Current and Next Vaccination Groups
COVID-19 vaccines are currently available only for:
- Healthcare workers (Phase 1A)
- Long-term care residents (Phase 1A)
- Individuals 65 and older (Phase 1B-Tier 1)
- Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors (Phase 1B-Tier 1):
- Education and childcare
- Emergency services
- Food and agriculture
Next on the priority list for vaccination are:
- Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors (Phase 1B-Tier 2):
- Transportation and logistics
- Industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services
- Critical manufacturing
- Congregate settings with outbreak risk (Phase 1B-Tier 2)::
Every Californian can sign up to see if it’s their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine by visiting https://myturn.ca.gov/. If you’re not currently eligible, you can sign up to be notified when it’s your turn.
Staff Contact: Preston Young