California to open up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people with underlying conditions, disabilities

Beginning March 15, the State of California is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people between the ages of 16 and 64 who have a severe underlying health condition or are at risk because of a developmental or other severe disability.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary, said this would add about 4-6 million people to the approximately 13 million Californians already eligible to receive the vaccine.

This will include people with the following conditions:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen-dependent
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • 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%

Currently eligible for the vaccine in California are healthcare workers, long-term care residents, people 65 and older, and those working in the education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture sectors.

However, in San Luis Obispo County, only healthcare workers and people age 65 and older are eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments right now, and in Santa Barbara County, appointments are limited to healthcare workers and people age 75 and older. County public health officials have attributed a lack of vaccine supply to the limited appointments.

Santa Barbara County plans to extend vaccination appointments to people between the ages of 65 and 74 starting Tuesday, Feb. 16.

County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said Friday that Santa Barbara County will also open up vaccine appointments to the disabled and those with underlying conditions on March 16 when they become eligible per the state. She said those in the education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture sectors will be next but gave no specific date.

Janelle B. Smith

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