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California to Open Up Vaccine for Residents 16–64 With Certain Underlying Conditions

Photo courtesy of San Bernardino County

On Friday, officials from the California Department of Public Health announced that residents between 16 and 64 years old with disabilities or other underlying health conditions will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Beginning March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the following severe health conditions,” according to a provider bulletin from CDPH.

The severe health conditions include:

  • 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 (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2).
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%.

Also, residents with a developmental or other severe high-risk disability are eligible if one or more of the following applies:

  • The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection.
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival.
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability.

The announcement comes after weeks of criticism from disability rights advocates.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly estimates that between 4–6 million Californias will become eligible under the expanded guidelines. The state and local jurisdictions, however, are still struggling with limited vaccine supply.

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