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Morning Brief: The Lists Defining ‘Healthcare Workers’ Are Long, Complicated, And Sometimes Overlapping

Vaccinations will be conducted at Dodger Stadium to those with appointments. Chava Sanchez/LAist
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 12.

As local coronavirus cases and deaths begin to decrease, many residents’ focus is shifting from testing to vaccinating.

We’ve reported on the myriad stumbles of the vaccination rollout, from inequitable distribution to confusion about the second dose to inadequate supply. Now, another issue is cropping up: Communication failures from the top down about who is eligible to get the shots.

My colleague Jackie Fortiér, who has been covering the pandemic and health closely, reports that despite being considered healthcare workers — the first group that was eligible for the vaccine — parents and caregivers of people with disabilities are not consistently being granted access to inoculation.

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"The culture of the vaccine deployment world right now is the Wild West," said Andy Imparato, executive director of Disability Rights California.

The confusion is caused in part by the number of health departments in California, most of which are making their own decisions about vaccine deployment. L.A. County alone has three; the county’s own, another in Pasadena, and a third in Long Beach.

Another contributing factor is poor training; several families with whom Jackie spoke to reported being turned away at vaccination sites by workers who didn’t believe they were eligible, or accused them of bringing phony documentation.

And the turmoil is exacerbated by the long, confusing, and sometimes overlapping lists of who qualifies as a healthcare worker.

L.A. County’s Department of Public Health lists 38 jobs and employers that qualify a person as a healthcare worker. California describes the healthcare sector as “large, diverse, and open, spanning both the public and private sectors,” listing 22 types of workers, many of which are further broken down into dozens of specific job titles.

And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t bother with job titles at all, instead defining healthcare workers as “all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials,” followed by a long list of qualifying factors.

In other words, it would be hard for anyone to parse those lists and understand who can get the vaccine and who can’t. In the absence of clarifying instructions from state and local governments, it might be awhile before everyone is on the same page.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

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Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

Diane Edith Watson, 87, was the first African American woman elected to the LAUSD Board, and she went on to serve in state and local politics for decades. (L.A. Sentinel)

Community land trusts could be the future of affordable housing in L.A. (LAist)

Activists worry that Latina/o immigrants who lack the necessary technology, transportation, or experience navigating local bureaucracy are facing elevated challenges in accessing the vaccine. (San Fernando Sun)

A mobile vaccination clinic was rolled out for senior citizens living in South Los Angeles. (L.A. Watts Times)

Got a spare $3 million? This desert town could be yours. (LAist)

This underground fight club is gaining respect among L.A.’s best. (L.A. Taco)

The Church of Epiphany in Lincoln Heights was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its role in the Chicano movement of the 1960s. (The Eastsider)

A new tiny home community in North Hollywood is providing shelter for Angelenos experiencing homelessness. (LAist)

97-year-old Ruth Zamora, who has lived in the City of San Fernando throughout her life, was among the first people to be vaccinated in the area. (San Fernando Sun)

Before You Go … Want to Talk about Friends?

Central Perk at the Warner Brothers Lot (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

We’re starting a new event series! If you, like so many of us, have been binging nostalgic television shows, join us to chat about them at the TV Pilot Club.

In our first get-together, hosted by LAist Arts and Entertainment Reporter Mike Roe, we’ll discuss and unpack the premiere episode of Friends — what holds up, and what really, really doesn’t. Join us for "The One Where It Began" on February 18th from 6:30 - 7:30 pm PST. for an interactive conversation.

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