SACRAMENTO (TBEN SF) – California on Wednesday announced it was prioritizing residents aged 65 and over for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Public health officials hope that including people 65 and older for vaccinations will speed up distribution. As of Monday, 816,673 doses of the coronavirus vaccine were given to healthcare workers, staff and residents of nursing homes, state officials said.
As the state rolls out vaccine doses in stages, targeting most-at-risk demographic groups first, new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday urged states to begin immunizing all people aged 65 and over. years and older – rather than segmenting them based on whether they have underlying medical conditions. About 15% of the state’s population is over 65, according to 2019 population estimates from the US Census Bureau.
“We believe that having more vaccines, inviting more to be vaccinated, will allow California to go faster and faster in our population and to get this vaccine out of our freezers and integrate it into our populations. to get that protection, ”HHS Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said.
Ghaly noted that the rollout of immunization in the state has been somewhat tempered so far due to a general lack of available doses as well as a limited number of healthcare professionals licensed to administer doses of vaccine.
However, both of those things are expected to change in the coming days, as state and local public health officials collaborate to establish large-scale drive-thru coronavirus vaccination sites at sporting venues like Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and the Oakland Coliseum as well as Cal Expo in Sacramento and Disneyland.
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In addition, the state is recruiting additional doctors such as pharmacists and dentists as well as the National Guard to increase the administration of vaccine doses.
Prior to the new CDC guidelines, the state planned to expand its immunization pool this month to include people aged 75 and over as well as education and child care, emergency services, workers of food and agriculture.
These groups are still expected to begin receiving vaccine doses in the coming weeks in addition to those over 65, assuming the state’s vaccine distribution task force expands the pool. vaccination.
According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, California is one of 40 states that are still in the early stages of the initial “1-A” phase of vaccine distribution focused on immunizing health workers and people in the community. long-term care facilities. .
Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced that the state will release a new acceptance notification tool so residents can know when they are eligible for the vaccine. It will be launched next week.
To date, nearly 2.5 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped to local health departments and California health care systems, state officials say.
Ghaly said that figure was still well below what the state was now hoping for.
“The truth is, with such a limited vaccine supply and a bit of entry into the state, we continue to look for ways in which our structure allows us to get the vaccine out to these populations as quickly as possible while still keeping us. allowing to finish, without hindrance. the vaccine that we have already received, ”Ghaly said.
According to Ghaly, in addition to the more than 800,000 doses administered, about 99,000 residents of the state have received the two doses of the vaccine needed to boost immunity.
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