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California To Open Up Vaccinations To Ages 16-64 With Certain Diseases And Disabilities

Silvia Lopez, Senior Custodian working in the ER, recieves the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at UCI Medical Center (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Beginning March 15, California vaccinators are free to start immunizing anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 if they have one of a number of serious health conditions, or if they have a developmental or other disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection.

The California Department of Public Health announced the job in a directive issued today. Under the new rules, vaccination will be available to people 16-64 with:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

That age group will also be eligible if:
As a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability one or more of the following applies:

  • The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said the state is still working out how the people in the above groups will prove their condition when they arrive at a vaccination site.
“We understand and know that that has been one of the challenges with the structure and we're trying to make sure that it doesn't become another challenge for this important group,” he said.

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Andy Imparato, the executive director of Disability Rights California, welcomed the state’s new guidelines, calling them “a huge step forward.”

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