Sacramento, CA…. In order to increase the pace of COVID-19 vaccine distribution to those at greatest risk, the state is prioritizing individuals 65 and older to receive the vaccine as demand subsides among health care workers. “There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “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.”
Those in Phase 1A – health care workers and long-term care residents – remain the highest priority to receive vaccines. Demand for the vaccines continues to far exceed supply.
“With our hospitals crowded and ICUs full, we need to focus on vaccinating Californians who are at highest risk of becoming hospitalized to alleviate stress on our health care facilities,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer. “Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives.”
Following a bipartisan letter from nine governors including Governor Newsom on January 8, the CDC announced changes yesterday to its vaccine plan including making more of the coronavirus vaccine supply available to all states. Along with the increase in vaccine supply, the federal government encouraged states to expand the pool of those eligible to receive the vaccine to individuals 65 and older.
The Governor also announced a new 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 eligible. That system is expected to launch next week. A second phase of that system will help counties, cities and others run mass vaccination events. This will include a way for eligible members of the public to schedule their vaccination appointments at those events. Community vaccination events are only one way for eligible Californians to receive their vaccines. When available, the public can also go to their doctor or pharmacy to receive the vaccine.
Governor Newsom has aggressively led the state to increase the pace of vaccine administration. He laid out the goal of 1 million additional vaccines administered by the end of this week. At the direction of the Governor, the state has tackled the problem with a multi-pronged approach, including:
1. Increasing the number of people who can provide vaccinations by more than 100,000 health care professionals
a. Last Monday, added 36,000 dentists to the pool of health care providers who can administer the COVID-19 vaccines. The state has already received anecdotal reports of dentists actively administering vaccines after completing the required COVID-19 training.
b. This expansion comes on the heels a similar waiver in late December allowing pharmacy technicians overseen by licensed pharmacists to administer COVID-19 vaccines. There are 69,000 pharmacy technicians in California.
2. Directing Resources, Driving Commitment
a. The Governor’s office has convened meetings with leaders across the public and private health care system and received commitments to cooperatively accelerate the pace of vaccine administration.
For more information on the state’s efforts to distribute a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in a fair way to everyone who wants it, visit the Vaccinate All 58 webpage.