Lake County Information,California – State to permit for individuals beneath age 65 with extreme sickness or disabilities to obtain COVID-19 vaccine earlier
The state of California is adjusting its priority levels for COVID-19 vaccinations to allow faster administration of the vaccine to those under 65 who have high-risk conditions or disabilities that make them more susceptible to the effects of the coronavirus.
Last month the state expanded its priority levels to include people aged 65 and over. The governor announced that age would be a major factor in determining eligibility in the future.
This was of concern for Californians with disabilities and chronic illnesses who are not meeting the age requirements to wait for the vaccine.
On Friday, the state said it will now give health care providers additional flexibility to vaccinate younger people with underlying health conditions or high-risk disabilities, California Health and Welfare Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
Starting March 15, health care providers will use their clinical judgment to vaccinate people aged 16 to 64 who are at direct risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of pregnancy, cancer and chronic kidney disease (stage four and higher), oxygen-dependent chronic lung disease, oxygen-dependent, Down’s syndrome, immunocompromised state due to an organ transplant, sickle cell disease, heart diseases such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies (without high blood pressure), severe obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus with a A1c levels greater than 7.5 percent.
According to this new rule, people who have developmental disorders or other serious high-risk disabilities and who are likely to develop a serious life-threatening illness or death from a COVID-19 infection may also be vaccinated. Individuals for whom acquiring COVID-19 would limit their ability to receive ongoing care or services that are vital to their well-being and survival; and those receiving adequate and timely COVID supplies will be especially challenging because of their disability, according to the provider’s bulletin the state posted to Lake County News.
Ghaly said there are approximately four to six million Californians in these groups.
This is in addition to the 13 million people now eligible for Stage One, including Phase 1A, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, and Phase 1B, food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services workers and Californians aged 65 and over.
State officials are focused on saving lives, promoting justice and getting to the other side of the pandemic, Ghaly said.
As part of this process, the state recognizes that certain individuals have additional risk factors based on various disabilities and conditions. “This is in recognition of that,” Ghaly said of the changes that have been made to add the new groups to the vaccination levels.
The March 15 date allows stakeholders, vendors, and other groups to ensure that services and capacity are in place so that people in these new priority groups can get the vaccine, Ghaly said.
“We believe this planning period is appropriate,” said Ghaly.
At the same time, Ghaly said the state is still grappling with vaccine shortages.
While the state can now get a three-week vaccine outlook from its federal partners, Ghaly said it couldn’t say when the state will have enough vaccine to get vaccinations for the 13 million people now eligible and for those up to six million more, which will be added in March.
“Supply is the hardest part,” he said.
Administration officials told reporters Friday that the vaccine distribution process was based on appropriate populations. At the beginning, these amounts were based specifically on the number of employees in the healthcare system in the individual counties.
In the state’s talks with the federal government, Ghaly said there was evidence that the availability of vaccines from manufacturers could increase significantly by late spring or early summer.
At the same time, Ghaly noted that “justice is paramount” in distributing the vaccine.
He added, “Achieving justice simply means more to those who are disproportionately affected,” whether it be because of age, race or sexual orientation.
Include a third party administrator to monitor the vaccination network
Also on Friday, administration officials discussed with reporters the introduction of a third party administrator who will help build a nationwide vaccine administration network, a plan that Governor Gavin Newsom first announced last month.
The Newsom office announced that the third party administrator will assign the vaccines directly to the vendors in order to maximize sales efficiency.
The third party administrator ensures that the state network of vaccine providers includes adequate access in disproportionately affected communities and supplements this access with evening / extended opening hours, transport services, translation services, services for private users, mobile vaccination services and functions for physical accessibility at vaccination events, said administrative officials.
Officials said they will have individual conversations with the county health care leadership about their vaccination challenges and where the process works to help educate the third party administrator in building the state network of vaccine providers.
Under the third party administrator, counties have wide leeway to determine who will receive the vaccine, administration officials said.
On Tuesday, Lake County Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace, the first meeting of the
COVID-19 Ethics Ad Hoc Committee that he put together.
Lake County News asked Pace on Friday how this committee and its vaccination prioritization proposals would interact with the changes the state is making, including the introduction of the Third Party Administrator.
“I’m still working on a lot of details,” Pace replied in an email.