California opens entitlement to the COVID vaccine for people over 65 years of age

California officials on Wednesday announced a significant extension of the vaccination eligibility guidelines, allowing all residents 65 and older to qualify more quickly for COVID-19 vaccinations, in response to new Trump government guidelines aimed at accelerating vaccine introduction across the country.

This move represents a new urgency to increase access to vaccination amid rapid numbers of cases. Orange County officials were the first to adopt the new rules on Tuesday.

“There is no higher priority than the efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines as quickly as possible to those facing the most severe consequences,” Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday. “People aged 65 and over are the next group that is eligible to start vaccinations. For those who are not yet eligible for vaccinations, it will be their turn. We will do our best to bring another vaccine into the state. “

California officials have so far struggled to allocate doses of vaccine. By Monday, he had received more than 2.4 million doses of vaccine in California, but less than a third had been given. There was a lower-than-expected demand for health and nursing home workers who play a key role in receiving vaccinations, with up to 40% rejecting the initial option of vaccination.

In response, government officials last week extended access to healthcare workers and eased unused dosing guidelines.

Newsom last week set an ambitious target to vaccinate an additional 1 million people over the 10 days to January 17th.

Prior to the Los Angeles County state announcement, pop-up messages were added to the vaccine registry website, warning people not to book an appointment unless they were authorized to do so. Last week, LA County received more than 490,990 vaccine doses, more than 145,620 first doses and more than 6,150 second doses.

In California, the huge increase in COVID-19 cases has focused attention on managing the state’s vaccine stocks. Los Angeles County is approaching 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, meaning 1 in 10 counties became infected sometime during the pandemic. Nationwide, more than 2.7 million California tests are positive.

According to federal officials, the decision to open the license prompted states to take faster action. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Rights Alex Azar said Tuesday that states have simply moved too slowly and life-saving vaccination should be eliminated immediately.

“It’s the most effective way to save lives right now,” Azar said. “And the cumbersome microcontrolling of some states with this process has prevented vaccination to reach a wider range of vulnerable populations more quickly.”

According to federal guidelines, individuals 65 years of age or older are eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. In addition, federal guidelines require a person between the ages of 16 and 64 with a documented medical condition to certify now.

Azar said state regulations that restrict eligibility “hindered the speed and availability of vaccines.”

States encouraged to make vaccines more readily Azar said the federal government sent a two-week notice that future doses would be released to states based on how effectively they used up their existing stocks.

“This gives states a strong incentive to ensure that rations work to protect people, rather than sitting on shelves or in freezers,” Azar said. “With the number of cases now, there is no time to waste at all.”

Federal pressure appears to have prompted government officials to rethink their plans. Previously, the state planned to vaccinate people in certain jobs, such as education and agriculture, followed by adults aged 75 and over, followed by people aged 65-74. Under the new guidelines, the state is 65 years of age or older and binds this group to priority access.

However, the state would wait for the next level to ensure that people aged 16-65 in a medical condition are eligible for vaccination.

State restrictions on who is eligible for vaccination and when they wanted to provide a limited amount of care were properly prioritized and that people could not buy the front of the line. Newsom announced last week that the state will ease restrictions to ensure it can offer vaccinations to other lower-level groups, such as teachers, childminders and people over 75, if there is a risk of vaccination. expiring.

Wednesday’s expansion of capabilities poses significant challenges. California counties are looking for more and more health professionals who are able to administer recordings, large facilities where vaccinations can be offered, and more of the vaccinations themselves.

In Santa Clara County, officials say they have been so successful in distributing the vaccines that they need more doses. The county has requested an additional 100,000 doses of vaccine from the state, but it was announced this week that it will receive 6,000, said Dr. Jeff Smith, the county’s executive. That will affect the county’s target of 35,000 weekly vaccinations starting next week, he said.

The changing group, who is eligible, made it difficult for the county’s plans to distribute vaccines.

“We get confusing and inconsistent messaging,” Smith said.

At a meeting on Tuesday, some members of the state vaccination advisory committee expressed concern that individuals who may also face other vulnerabilities may be lost during the mixing, focusing on age. Others have raised concerns that vulnerable individuals, including key workers, may be ignored as the door opens to a wider range of suitable vaccinees.

“If you hire this large group of people, you won’t get enough vaccinations,” – Carol Green, a California state parent teacher at Assn. said at the meeting.

Times staff member Taryn Luna contributed to this report.