A committee tasked with recommending who will be in the "Tier 1-B" group for COVID vaccinations in California, and they met Wednesday to begin finalizing those recommendation.
The Community Vaccine Advisory Committee is made up of dozens of representatives from organizations around the state, including the California School Boards Association, the California State Parent Teachers Association, and the California Professional Firefighters, to name a few. As ABC 7 reports, the list of who will come next in line for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines is likely to have teachers and child-care workers near the top of it. Also in Tier 1-B, per the committee's current recommendations, will be police and firefighters, corrections officers, food and agriculture workers, grocery store employees, and all individuals age 75 and up.
Also in this group will be prisoners in state and county facilities, but prisoners in federal prisons will be at the mercy of the federal distribution system. Reportedly, one CA prison that houses prisoners with special medical needs, the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, has already received some vaccine doses.
Some of the ordering of priorities will ultimately be up to county health departments and how they handle the messaging and distribution process of the vaccine. As the LA Times notes, in counties with large populations of agriculture employees, things may look different than in, say, San Francisco.
"I feel markedly more comfortable with vaccine distribution than other elements of pandemic response because it’s really in the public health wheelhouse," said Mariposa County Health Officer Dr. Eric Sergienko, speaking the LA Times.
There are 61 public health agencies in the state — one for each of 58 counties and three city-specific departments, in Berkeley, Pasadena, and Long Beach. Among them will be distributed 2 to 2.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the first week in January, and a total of 12.5 million doses by the end of February.
It's not clear at what point the state expects to have completed the process of vaccinating front-line healthcare workers and nursing-home residents and workers in the state, some of whom have already begun receiving vaccines in the last week and a half.
The next phase of vaccinations is likely to include people between ages 65 and 74, homeless individuals, and those who work critical manufacturing, industrial commercial facilities, and transportation. Uber was gunning to have its drivers be prioritized early, but it's unclear where rideshare drivers will fall in all this — or if workers in public transportation and airlines, for instance, will be given first priority.
"There’s less vaccine than people who need it, so we’re having to make very difficult decisions,” says Dr. Oliver Brooks, a co-chair of the panel drafting the vaccine guidelines for state, speaking to the LA Times.
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