California prioritizing age in vaccine eligibility

May 04 2021 05:30 pm

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Who can get vaccinated and when? Those are the questions causing lots of confusion in the Central Valley and across the state.

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomas Aragon says age will be the primary emphasis when it comes to vaccine eligibility.

“In order for us to really save the most lives, save hospital capacity, and to really help the most impacted communities, an age-based strategy is the quickest most efficient way for us to do that,” Dr. Aragon said.

Citing people 65 and older account for 75% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.

He didn’t say whether the tier system is out, but admits it has flaws.

“A lot of feedback we got was implementing a lot of occupational groups becomes really difficult to operationalize because there is no real way to verify people are part of a group it becomes very complex,” Dr. Aragon said.

The first group to receive the vaccine was healthcare workers in Tier 1 A. Dr. Aragon says counties were given doses based on the number of healthcare workers.

But with many counties wrapping up that phase and moving on to phase 1 B, more people are eligible including those 65 and up causing some counties, like Fresno, to run low on supply.

“So now what you are seeing if the formula is shifting so you are getting the vaccine going to counties based on population,” Dr. Aragon said.

Dr. Aragon hopes if approved, the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccine become available in California by March, increasing supply drastically.

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