With the first round of vaccines arriving in California this week, the focus of discussion has largely shifted on the distribution and prioritization of these vaccines.
During today’s news conference with California Governor Gavin Newsom, a reporter asked a question about vaccine prioritizations, and if there was any flexibility that counties had in distributing the vaccine.
A reporter asked, “My question is about counties, I understand that counties have some flexibility in how they prioritize groups for the vaccine, what I’m wondering is how much flexibility do your support, and would the state step in if Orange County for example decided to vaccinate Disneyland workers before teachers?”
Governor Newsom replied that “The bottom line is: the state sets the tone, the state sets the tenor, the state lays out the prioritization for the distribution of the vaccines. We do allow within the partnerships that are well established, providers, clinics, hospitals, and the like, discretion within that frame and within those guidelines. As it relates to the Orange County example, that would be phase 1B at least for teachers, and that is a discussion that we are having this week in more specific detail.” The state is currently in phase 1A of distribution, with mostly includes health care workers.
Newsom then noted that a discussion will be had tomorrow between the drafting guidelines workgroup and community vaccine advisory group regarding the next phase of vaccine prioritization, of which the next tier (group 1B) will cover approximately 8 million California residents and would likely include teachers as well as other “essential or critical infrastructure workers.” Newsom then turned to California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly to comment on enforcing the tier prioritizations.
Dr. Ghaly commented, “To the heart of the question, we’re working with our counties, we always do, we always have, with really discussing what the priority groups are, getting buy in, getting clear understanding, so that we really do hope that their ability to navigate and drive where vaccines are happening follows exactly this set of priorities that are set by these groups that the governor had described.”
Dr. Ghaly continued on to say, “We will be working to track that from a data perspective, that we can share it in a very transparent way, and that if we do see clear deviations from that, that we have the tools to address it. We don’t anticipate this being a concern, certainly not a major concern in phase 1A, but all this work is being prepared for 1B.”
In regards to the reporter’s specific example of Orange County, Dr. Ghaly added that “We hope that, based on these prioritizations, Orange County just like every other of the 57 counties and all 61 health jurisdictions that are partners in this effort, that they will be lock step with us in being able to move forward in this way.
Dr. Ghaly concluded by saying, “I think a lot of work on this to come, but we are working with all those counties today to make sure that we’re moving in the same direction, that we’re prioritizing those who we know are in high-risk situations or they themselves have additional high-risk of having a bad outcome if they were to be infected by COVID.”
We will continue to keep a close watch on Southern California, which is currently in its second week of a three-week stay-at-home order.
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