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Californians 50 and older eligible for vaccinations in April

Medical assistant Monica Magana prepares a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto on Jan. 30, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Lea este artículo en español.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that all Californians 50 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 1, while everyone 16 and older will qualify two weeks later.

The governor also said that starting Thursday, the state will loosen requirements in lower-income communities for doctors and other health care providers to use their discretion to vaccinate anyone they think should get one, regardless of age or medical condition.

The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.

That is a substantial increase from the 1.8 million doses the state receives per week. Health officials have long said supply was the biggest constraint, and that the state has capacity to administer about 3 million vaccines per week and should be able to administer up to 4 million by the end of April.

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As of Wednesday, California had administered 15.5 million doses. About 5.4 million people have been fully vaccinated.

The expansion means that the state is about to open up to vaccinating all adults. It comes before May 1, when President Joe Biden had anticipated the move nationwide.

Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, it will take several months to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine, health officials warn.

It also is likely to spur a rush for appointments, leaving many people frustrated that they are unable to line up vaccinations.

Some counties have already been expanding the list of who is eligible. Solano County opened up vaccines to residents 50 and older last week. Contra Costa followed this week and on Thursday Tulare County and Long Beach made a similar announcement.

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But health officials in Santa Clara County said that while they'll expand vaccinations to people 50 and older starting April 1, and to everyone April 15, there's still far too few doses available.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib noted at a briefing Thursday that the county has about 400,000 residents aged 50 to 64, but it only will get 58,000 doses next week despite having the capacity to vaccinate as many as 200,000 people.

"We are concerned," said Fenstersheib, the county's COVID vaccine and testing officer. "We really just want to caution people to please continue to be patient" as they seek appointments.

Sutter Health, one of California's largest health systems, can vaccinate more than 25,000 patients daily but also has too few doses to meet demand, said spokeswoman Angeline Sheets.

Providers in communities like Santa Ana — those that fall in the lowest half of the Healthy Places Index — will have the flexibility to use their judgment. "If someone comes in who is eligible under the existing conditions, but with a family member, we will accommodate the family member, no questions asked," Newsom said.

The idea is to more quickly vaccinate families and people who live together in communities that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Previously, Californians 65 and over and people with certain serious health conditions were eligible, along with health care workers, educators, food industry workers and a few other types of essential workers.

Newsom made the statewide announcement from an AltaMed clinic in Santa Ana. "Just in a few weeks there will be no rules, no limitation," Newsom said.

The state has largely followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine prioritization. Still, the state has received some pushback on its vaccination game plan — most recently, people with some underlying medical conditions questioned why their conditions were left out. People with Type 2 diabetes, for example, are eligible now, but not those with Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed early in life and is related to an autoimmune reaction.

With Thursday's announcement, people with medical conditions not on the state's high-risk list may have to compete for vaccines with the general population.

Kaili Kobylka, 28, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes less than two years ago, so her condition was still new to her when the pandemic hit. She's still waiting anxiously for her turn to get the vaccine, she said.

"It's frustrating, I've been trying to get a vaccine for a couple of months, but I wasn't eligible," Kobylka said.

While Napa County, where she lives, hasn't opened up vaccines to people with Type 1 diabetes, her provider, Kaiser Permanente, recently did. She's been checking the Kaiser website for appointments, but hasn't been able to find open slots near her.

When Kobylka gets sick, it becomes more difficult for her to control her blood sugars. "I take tons of insulin but I don't see my numbers come down," she said. "I know that's the case when I have a cold or the flu, but I have no idea how my body would respond to COVID."

People with qualifying medical conditions do not have to provide a doctor's note or verification of their medical conditions; they can self attest. And while it's tempting to lie, it's also a moral issue, Kobylka said. "I don't feel great lying."

The state's expansion means Newsom himself will be eligible for a vaccine next Thursday. He said he would take whichever vaccine is available for him, acknowledging concerns that some vaccines are better than others.

Newsom said that the state's effort to distribute vaccines equitably continues to be a priority. The state currently reserves 40% of its vaccine supply for lower-income, hard-hit communities in an attempt to address the inequities. About 19% of the state's vaccines have been administered in the poorest ZIP codes, compared to 30% in wealthier communities.

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Email Ana B. Ibarra at [email protected] CalMatters contributing writer Barbara Feder Ostrov contributed to this article.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics. Read more state news from CalMatters here.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Californians 50 and older eligible for vaccinations in April

by / CalMatters

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 11:40 am
Updated: Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 4:46 pm

Lea este artículo en español.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that all Californians 50 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 1, while everyone 16 and older will qualify two weeks later.

The governor also said that starting Thursday, the state will loosen requirements in lower-income communities for doctors and other health care providers to use their discretion to vaccinate anyone they think should get one, regardless of age or medical condition.

The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.

That is a substantial increase from the 1.8 million doses the state receives per week. Health officials have long said supply was the biggest constraint, and that the state has capacity to administer about 3 million vaccines per week and should be able to administer up to 4 million by the end of April.

As of Wednesday, California had administered 15.5 million doses. About 5.4 million people have been fully vaccinated.

The expansion means that the state is about to open up to vaccinating all adults. It comes before May 1, when President Joe Biden had anticipated the move nationwide.

Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, it will take several months to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine, health officials warn.

It also is likely to spur a rush for appointments, leaving many people frustrated that they are unable to line up vaccinations.

Some counties have already been expanding the list of who is eligible. Solano County opened up vaccines to residents 50 and older last week. Contra Costa followed this week and on Thursday Tulare County and Long Beach made a similar announcement.

But health officials in Santa Clara County said that while they'll expand vaccinations to people 50 and older starting April 1, and to everyone April 15, there's still far too few doses available.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib noted at a briefing Thursday that the county has about 400,000 residents aged 50 to 64, but it only will get 58,000 doses next week despite having the capacity to vaccinate as many as 200,000 people.

"We are concerned," said Fenstersheib, the county's COVID vaccine and testing officer. "We really just want to caution people to please continue to be patient" as they seek appointments.

Sutter Health, one of California's largest health systems, can vaccinate more than 25,000 patients daily but also has too few doses to meet demand, said spokeswoman Angeline Sheets.

Providers in communities like Santa Ana — those that fall in the lowest half of the Healthy Places Index — will have the flexibility to use their judgment. "If someone comes in who is eligible under the existing conditions, but with a family member, we will accommodate the family member, no questions asked," Newsom said.

The idea is to more quickly vaccinate families and people who live together in communities that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Previously, Californians 65 and over and people with certain serious health conditions were eligible, along with health care workers, educators, food industry workers and a few other types of essential workers.

Newsom made the statewide announcement from an AltaMed clinic in Santa Ana. "Just in a few weeks there will be no rules, no limitation," Newsom said.

The state has largely followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine prioritization. Still, the state has received some pushback on its vaccination game plan — most recently, people with some underlying medical conditions questioned why their conditions were left out. People with Type 2 diabetes, for example, are eligible now, but not those with Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed early in life and is related to an autoimmune reaction.

With Thursday's announcement, people with medical conditions not on the state's high-risk list may have to compete for vaccines with the general population.

Kaili Kobylka, 28, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes less than two years ago, so her condition was still new to her when the pandemic hit. She's still waiting anxiously for her turn to get the vaccine, she said.

"It's frustrating, I've been trying to get a vaccine for a couple of months, but I wasn't eligible," Kobylka said.

While Napa County, where she lives, hasn't opened up vaccines to people with Type 1 diabetes, her provider, Kaiser Permanente, recently did. She's been checking the Kaiser website for appointments, but hasn't been able to find open slots near her.

When Kobylka gets sick, it becomes more difficult for her to control her blood sugars. "I take tons of insulin but I don't see my numbers come down," she said. "I know that's the case when I have a cold or the flu, but I have no idea how my body would respond to COVID."

People with qualifying medical conditions do not have to provide a doctor's note or verification of their medical conditions; they can self attest. And while it's tempting to lie, it's also a moral issue, Kobylka said. "I don't feel great lying."

The state's expansion means Newsom himself will be eligible for a vaccine next Thursday. He said he would take whichever vaccine is available for him, acknowledging concerns that some vaccines are better than others.

Newsom said that the state's effort to distribute vaccines equitably continues to be a priority. The state currently reserves 40% of its vaccine supply for lower-income, hard-hit communities in an attempt to address the inequities. About 19% of the state's vaccines have been administered in the poorest ZIP codes, compared to 30% in wealthier communities.

Email Ana B. Ibarra at [email protected] CalMatters contributing writer Barbara Feder Ostrov contributed to this article.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics.

Comments

Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2021 at 2:39 pm
Citizen , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 2:39 pm

This is great news. Can someone please provide links to sign ups for vaccinations at local centers like Levi Stadium and Mtn Vw Community center? Are we allowed to sign up now for a vaccination after April 1?


Whitey McWhiterson
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm
Whitey McWhiterson, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Really? Even if you have the worst medical coverage in the state: Kaiser Permanente? Surely, they will lag behind, probably, maybe, til June? Right? Kaiser needs to make a profit and there is none in just giving out shots for free.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm

The right hand is not talking to the left hand. Gavin is getting nervous about the recall and promising things he cannot guarantee will be followed through.

But then, politicians are always promising things they cannnot follow through.

We can't have more people being eligible for less reliable vaccine availability. We are being taken in yet again.


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2021 at 1:37 am
Citizen , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 1:37 am

My spouse over 65 had no problem getting a shot at Levi Stadium. A friend from PV had no trouble getting one at Oakland Coliseum. I just can't remember the search term -- and I'd prefer to go to MVw, where other friends got theirs and had no trouble. For some reason the medical care providers have had trouble getting in supply but there seems to be plenty at the mass vax centers.

@Bystander,
Try being active and getting things done yourself if you think politicians are worthless unless they're perfect gods. Roll up your sleeves and help instead of being a bystander/peanut gallery. In case you haven't noticed, it's pretty darned impossible to govern in the current climate, and CA was under constant attack. The current national administration promised 100 million shots in the first 100 days and delivered by day 58. Now it's a 200 million goal.


Whitey McWhiterson
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 26, 2021 at 5:45 am
Whitey McWhiterson, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 26, 2021 at 5:45 am

For what it's worth, my friend in Cleveland, who is years younger than me, while I cannot get it in California yet, told me his theory that if your state has in his words a lot of right wing nuts who don't want it, it's easier to have supply for those who do. Yet I wonder, the awful old TV reality show president is gone. How long before we stop blaming him for things we can't get done in California?


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