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When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine? California trying to ramp up distribution

Medical staff prepare Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.
Pharmacy director Gayle Butler, left, and nurse Cherry Costales, center, prepare Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at St. John’s Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

After a slow and at times rocky start, California is trying to ramp up vaccine distribution.

For now, the vaccine is still supposed to go to medical personnel and first responders. But officials expect to provide details soon about who will next be eligible.

A million new vaccinations?

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to vaccinate an additional 1 million people against COVID-19 over the next nine days, though details of how he would do it were unclear.

Though California has received more than 2.1 million doses of vaccines, as of Friday about a third had been administered to frontline healthcare workers and residents at nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities who were eligible for the first round of inoculations.

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Only 17% of the nearly 4 million vaccine doses delivered to nursing homes nationwide have been used, according to the CDC.

Easing vaccine rules

The state has eased restrictions on who qualifies for vaccinations to help speed the rate at which local health departments and providers administer the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, a process that was created to ensure the well-off and well-connected couldn’t jump to the front of the line.

The new guidelines allow for vaccines to be offered to those in other lower-tier groups, such as teachers, childcare workers, people who work in emergency services, food and agriculture and people over the age of 75, if there is a risk of the vaccine expiring.

Dodger Stadium change

Los Angeles plans to turn its massive coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium into a vaccination distribution center this week, with officials hoping to vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day when the site is fully operational.

City and county officials also plan to end testing at the Veterans Affairs Lot 15 site near Jackie Robinson Stadium to shift personnel, equipment and other resources to vaccine distribution.

At one vaccination clinic, a Times reporter watched as about 100 people were admitted without showing proof that they worked in healthcare.

Who is next?

The state might offer more details this week. But officials have said that after healthcare workers, these are some of the criteria for the next round of vaccines:

  • Have higher risk for severe disease or death (due to age or other factors)
  • Are unable to work at home
  • Live or work in geographic areas that have been severely affected
  • Are most likely to spread disease to other workers or to the public

Some of those who would be at the top of the line include, in order as outlined by the state:

  • Individuals 75 and older
  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors: education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture
  • Individuals 65-74 years of age
  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors: transportation and logistics; industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services; critical manufacturing
  • Congregate settings with outbreak risk: incarcerated and homeless people
  • Individuals 50-64 years of age
  • People 16-49 years of age who have an underlying health condition or disability that increases their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors: water and wastewater; defense; energy; chemical and hazardous materials; communications and IT; financial services; government operations / community-based essential functions

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