SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KION) State officials announced Friday that they will be providing more flexibility to health care providers giving COVID-19 vaccines.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced that starting on March 15, providers will have the flexibility to use clinical judgement to vaccinate people between the ages of 16 and 64 with some of the following risk factors:
- 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
- Sickle cell disease
- Heart conditions- Includes heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
- Severe obesity- Mody mass index at or above 40 kg/m2
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus- With hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%
In addition to those conditions, providers will have flexibility with those who have developmental or other severe high-risk disabilities if they are likely to develop life-threatening illness or die from COVID-19, if getting COVID-19 will limit the person's ability to receive ongoing care or if services essential to well-being and survival or if providing COVID-19 care will be particularly challenging because of the person's disability.
Ghaly said the state decided to provide this flexibility in an effort to save lives, offer equity and get to the other side of the pandemic. The state chose to wait until March because they are working to make sure the people in those groups are connected to outreach, build infrastructure and continue to deal with limited vaccine supply.
During the update, administration officials also described how they are working towards equity. They said the demographics of the people currently vaccinated differ from the state demographics because they have been focused on health care workers and older adults, but the officials said they are working with trusted leaders on education, especially in communities where vaccine hesitancy is a concern. They said they are also working to keep data transparent and accurate.
The officials said some rural counties have not received as many vaccine doses because they have been allocated based on eligible populations, but said they expect numbers to increase in those areas as older adults and other groups become eligible for vaccines.