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California Considers Expanding Vaccine Access To Everyone 65 And Older

Healthcare workers get vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital. Chava Sanchez/LAist
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Right now in California, we're still in "Phase 1A" of vaccine distribution, which is reserved for health care workers and long-term care residents.

Phase 1B would include, in two successive tiers, those 65 and older, vulnerable populations like the incarcerated and the homeless, and certain essential workers, including those in education, child care, transportation and logistics, and more.

Phase 1C would encompass everyone between the ages of 50 and 64 and expand the included essential workers to sectors like defense, energy, communications, financial services, and others.

But the distribution plan could soon be accelerated for some.

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Today, the CDC recommended that states now expand vaccine access to everyone over the age of 65, in an effort to speed up rollout.

Gov. Gavin Newsom called the recommendation "an important move" and said he is considering broadening California's priority groups to 65 and older "ASAP."

California health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said today that officials are reviewing the new guidance and should make a decision in the next 24 hours about whether to make the suggested expansion.

Meanwhile, Orange County's health officer, Dr. Clayton Chau, has already decided to extend vaccinations to those 65 and older, noting they are eligible starting today.

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Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at UCSF, told KPCC/LAist that he thinks the 65-plus idea is a good move:

"I think the vaccination effort has been way stalled -- if we kept up this rate we'll need like 10 to 20 years to vaccinate the country, so we need to change our paradigm."

Chin-Hong also pointed out the confusing guidelines between state and local vaccination efforts. He said he hopes the Biden administration will address the lack of national direction when they take office.

L.A. County has so far followed the state’s guidelines on vaccine distribution. County public health officials have not yet announced a change in plans.


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