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California announces who will receive first round of COVID-19 vaccines

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Brooks Jackson, University of Iowa Vice President for medical affairs, says the COVID-19 vaccines will be safe for adults to receive.

Des Moines Register

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced which Californians will receive the initial round of COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December amid a scarcity of doses. Hospital workers, nursing home workers, paramedics and dialysis center workers will be the first to receive the vaccine.

From the start, Newsom has said health care workers would receive top priority, in line with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. However, the state’s initial 327,000 doses will not cover all health care workers. As the vaccine requires two doses, that first distribution will only reach 163,500 people. 

The state’s vaccine guideline committee has spent the past few weeks building out a priority plan within the health care system based on which workers face the highest risk of transmission. 

Here is the state’s updated plan for the initial phase of distribution:

  • Tier 1: Health care workers with direct exposure to patients at acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals; workers at skilled nursing facilities; paramedics; and workers at dialysis centers
  • Tier 2: Workers at intermediate health care facilities, in-home health workers, community health workers, public health field staff and workers at primary care clinics
  • Tier 3: Workers at specialty clinics, lab workers, dental offices, and pharmacy staff not included in other tiers.

The order for the vaccines will be sent to Pfizer on Friday, and the state anticipates the vaccines to be available for distribution come mid-December.

Counties split into regions for doses

The state will be split into six regions for vaccine distribution. Each region will be responsible for ordering their own vaccines. 

  • Region 1 will receive 126,750 doses of the vaccine. It includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
  • Region 2 will receive 80,497 doses. It includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano and Sonoma counties.
  • Region 3 will receive 8,592 doses. It includes Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties.
  • Region 4 will receive 35,145 doses. It includes Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne and Yolo counties.
  • Region 5 will receive 16,706 doses. It includes Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties.
  • Region 6 will receive 59,910 doses. It includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

It was not immediately clear how vaccines will be distributed within regions; whether equally or based on county population size. 

However, to put it in perspective: Between the five counties in Region 6, just under 30,000 people will be vaccinated during the mid-December distribution. That’s only 0.6% of the region’s 4.9 million residents.

Newsom said the vaccine distribution process will be thoughtful and specific as more doses become available.

“We will be very aggressive in making sure those with means and influence are not crowding out those who are most deserving of vaccines,” Newsom said. “We will be monitoring that very, very closely.”

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Newsom said those that are responsible for actually distributing the vaccine to individuals will be expected to prioritize people the state has laid out in its plan.

“We must protect and prioritize health care workers,” he said.

The state previously released a draft, three-phase vaccine roll-out plan. Phase 1 included distributing the vaccine to all health care workers who have direct or indirect exposure to patients, other essential workers and high-risk individuals. Phase 2 included essential workers who didn’t receive the vaccine during Phase 1 distribution; and Phase 3 included distribution to the general public.

Ordering the vaccines this week, Newsom added, is a symbol of hope and a reminder that California’s current surge of COVID-19 cases should be the last. 

“We have a light at the end of the tunnel,” Newsom said. “This is no longer a marathon, it is a sprint. This is the last and final surge before we get the vaccine.”

Desert Sun reporter Nicole Hayden covers health in California. She can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 778-4623. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_A_Hayden.

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