April 22, 2024


Built General Tough

What health conditions or disabilities make me eligible to get vaccinated under new California rules?

California on March 15 will open up coronavirus vaccinations to residents under 65 years old who have disabilities or severe underlying medical conditions.

State officials announced the change on Friday, and it is expected to add between 4 million and 6 million people between the ages of 16 (the current cutoff age for the vaccines) and 64 to the pool of people eligible for vaccinations.

Currently, about 13 million California residents are eligible for vaccines: health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, workers in the food and agriculture, education and emergency services sectors; and people 65 and older. However, counties vary greatly in which of these groups they are prioritizing, based on vaccine supply and local decisions about who to vaccinate first.

The California Department of Public Health has posted a complete list here of the conditions that qualify people between ages 16 to 64 to get vaccinated, starting March 15. They hew closely to the list of underlying medical conditions the CDC has identified that put people at higher risk of severe illness. They 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

• Pregnancy

• Sickle cell disease

• Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)

• Severe obesity with body mass index of 40 or greater

• Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

The state did not provide a detailed list of which disabilities qualify someone to be included in the March 15 group, but broadly defined it as anyone who as a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability:

• is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19

• would see their ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being or survival limited by acquiring COVID

• would find it difficult to get adequate and timely COVID care as a result of their disability, if they contracted the disease

State officials are still determining what kind of verification people will have to show to vaccinators as proof of their condition. The state did not elaborate on why some conditions are included but not others — Type 2 diabetes, for example, but not Type 1 diabetes — or why a list of qualifying underlying medical conditions was available but not a list of qualifying disabilities.

Catherine Ho is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Cat_Ho