SACRAMENTO – Californians between 16 and 64 who are at high risk with certain health conditions and disabilities, from COVID-19 will be eligible to be vaccinated starting March 15, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told reporters in a media briefing Friday afternoon.
Those with disabilities will be able to get the doses at mass vaccine sites and other providers, but the state is still working to determine how their health conditions will be verified, or what documentation will be required Ghaly said.
Beginning March 15, health care providers “may use their clinical judgement” to give COVID-19 vaccines those California residents aged 16 to 64 with certain health conditions and disabilities, the California Department of Public Health department said in a bulletin released Friday.
The health conditions outlined for vaccine eligibility are:
- 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
- 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%
Also, according to the state, people with developmental or other high-risk disabilities can get vaccinated if:
- They’re likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
- Getting COVID-19 will limit the person’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
- Getting adequate and timely COVID-19 care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability
The state’s bulletin notes that the list of eligible conditions is subject to change.
Because of the supply issues, it remains unclear when the state will transition to the age-based vaccine plan Ghaly noted.
By adding those listed high-risk patients to the eligibility groups gives healthcare providers the “flexibility” to begin vaccinating them next month as part of the current vaccine distribution structure Ghaly said.
“At some period in the future, as the state has laid out before, we will go into the next phase of eligible population, which may be age based,” he added.
Responding to questions from the Blade and other media outlets regarding the state’s plan to ensure vaccination equity as well as address vaccine hesitancy and concerns especially by minority groups, Ghaly outlined the 5 “concrete steps” the state is taking to ensure equity. (See Chart)
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 137 new deaths and 3,497 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. To date, Public Health identified 1,161,773 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 18,789 deaths.
Since Tuesday, February 9 daily reported cases have stabilized near 3,500 new cases a day.
More than 1,345,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the County according to a Public Health media statement on Friday. Of those vaccinated, 298,875 people have received second doses. At this time, vaccinations are available for healthcare workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and people who are age 65 or older.
This upcoming week, LADPH is slated to receive 219,700 doses of vaccine; more than 50% of this allocation will be needed for second doses. The majority of appointments at the County’s large capacity vaccination sites continue to be limited to individuals with appointments for their second doses.
“It is our hope that we will see larger allocations in the near future,” a Public Health spokesperson said.
Residents are encouraged to visit website, www.VaccinateLACounty.com and www.VaccunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish) to sign up for available appointments, learn about the vaccination phases, determine when it is your turn to get vaccinated, and sign-up for our COVID-19 vaccine newsletter.