The new COVID vaccination suitability guide uses an age list

In a major overhaul of vaccination eligibility guidelines, California officials said Monday that the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations will be a priority to focus on age rather than specific occupations considered higher risk.

The amendments announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday leave unchanged the current priority list, which focuses on health workers and residents aged 65 and over before being extended to teachers, farm workers and first aiders.

But it changes who gets the vaccine after them. According to the tier structure of the original plan, Level 2 workers as well as incarcerated people and the homeless would be treated as a priority in the manufacturing, transportation, and commercial and residential environments.

According to the new plan, the next priority will be those under 65 years of age. No details of the criteria were released on Monday, but it could eventually focus on people over the age of 50.

The move comes as California continues to struggle to get enough vaccines to meet demand. Last week, state officials said it could take until June to get the vaccines for everyone 65 and older. Los Angeles County estimates that by 2022, vaccination will only be available if additional care becomes available.

“We are aware that we need to increase throughput here, and while we are proud of the framework we have released … we recognize that there are pros and cons to this as they are related to speed and efficiency,” Newsom said.

The topic of changing eligibility was regularly raised at meetings of the State Vaccination Advisory Committee. Last week, some members expressed concern that people with chronic illnesses and disabilities were lagging behind the current deployment plan.

“From our perspective, if we wait until May to reach other populations, many people under the age of 65 will die unnecessarily,” Andy Imparato, of California’s Disability Employment Rights session, said Wednesday.

The state has so far delivered more than 2.4 million doses of vaccine and more than 4.5 million doses have been delivered to health care providers. Currently, state and county officials have said there is not enough stockpile of vaccines to achieve mass vaccination targets.

State epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said last week that the state receives 300 to 500,000 doses a week. In Los Angeles County, 500,000 doses a week would be needed to vaccinate all adults by mid-summer, Dr. Paul Simon, chief scientific officer, said Friday. But at the current rate of allocation, efforts will continue until 2022.

Bob Schoonover, president of the International Union of California Employees, says the transition to age-related decisions about occupational risks at the next level contradicts research that jobs are a major source of spread.

“Working California people, most of whom are colorful, millions have no choice but to leave their homes and work every day, exposing themselves, their families, and their communities to COVID-19 and its destruction,” Schoonover said in a statement.