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California Transitioning to Age-Based COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

The state is also launching My Turn, a new system for Californians to learn when they are eligible to be vaccinated. | Courtesy photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

Governor Gavin Newsom announced a series of changes to the state’s vaccination plan on Monday. Among the changes, is a shift to a focus on age rather than occupations deemed high-risk.

“Vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am focused on taking the steps needed to get Californians safely vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Newsom. “Our public health and health care systems have done heroic work administering more than 2.4 million vaccinations thus far. To reach the pace needed to vaccinate all Californians in a timely manner, we are simplifying and standardizing the process statewide.” 

Moving forward, there will be a single statewide standard and movement through the tiers. The state will continue through residents 65 and older, health care workers, and prioritize emergency services, food and agriculture workers, teachers and school staff. From there, the state will transition to age-based eligibility. Details were not given about which age range would follow the current phase of eligible vaccine recipients.

The state is also launching My Turn, a new system for Californians to learn when they are eligible to be vaccinated and a place to make an appointment when eligible as well as a mechanism to track vaccination data. Through My Turn, individuals will be able to sign up for a notification when they are eligible to make an appointment and schedule one when it is their turn. According to the governor’s office, “Providers will be able to use My Turn to automatically share data on vaccines received and administered with the state, reducing lag times.”

My Turn is currently being piloted in Los Angeles and San Diego counties and is expected to be available statewide in early February.

To increase available supply based on existing in-state vaccines, the Department of Public Health announced a process that will allow for the reallocation of vaccines from providers who have not used at least 65% of their available supply on hand for a week and have not submitted a plan for administering the remaining vaccine to prioritized populations within four days of notice. 

California has received more than 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, roughly enough for 2 million people at two doses each. The state has administered more than 2.4 million doses. California has 3 million health care workers and nursing home residents, 6 million people 65+, and 2.5 million Californians who work in education and child care, emergency services and food and agriculture.

According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, the state currently receives between 300,000 to 500,000 doses per week. “In Los Angeles County, 500,000 doses would be needed per week in order to vaccinate all adults by mid-summer, chief science officer Dr. Paul Simon said Friday,” wrote The Times on Monday. “But at the rate that current allocation is going, efforts would continue well into 2022.

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