January 25, 2021
This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new flexibility in the state’s vaccination tiers to accelerate distribution of vaccine to the most vulnerable Californians, prioritizing Californians aged 65 and over. The change was part of the Newsom administration’s efforts to revamp its vaccine distribution system to simplify eligibility, standardize information and data, and streamline the vaccination process under more direct state control.
“We believe that the cohort 65 and over needs to be prioritized alongside health care workers, first responders, food and agricultural workers and school staff and teachers,” Newsom said.
The changes will accelerate the rate of vaccinations across California and empower health care professionals to make medical decisions as they administer vaccines.
“Clearly, there is great demand for these vaccines, and we are hopeful that California will be getting our fair share of vaccine doses in the weeks to come to meet the needs of our 40 million residents. We share the governor’s commitment to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible, while prioritizing the most vulnerable. Equity and speed are not mutually exclusive,” said Peter N. Bretan, M.D., president of the California Medical Association (CMA). “Today’s announcement will help us deliver more vaccine to more Californians quickly and equitably and help us turn the tide against this deadly pandemic so we can safely reopen our schools, our economy and our society.”
Gov. Newsom said that an age-based vaccination strategy “will allow us to scale up much more quickly to get vaccines to impacted communities much more expeditiously.”
"The goal is to build a system to equitably and efficiently administer vaccines when supply increases," stated a statement from the governor’s office.
Thus far, 2.6 million doses have been administered in the state, which has a population of about 39 million.
Gov. Newsom also announced a new “My Turn” website, which allows Californians to sign up and receive text or email alerts when they are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
State officials are urging Californians to enroll at myturn.ca.gov, which will notify people when they are eligible to receive a vaccination. The tool will also be a scheduling tool to allow patients to make an appointment for a vaccination, Newsom administration officials said.
The site--myturn.ca.gov-- was created in partnership SalesForce and Accenture, is currently part of a pilot initiative in Los Angeles and San Diego counties where individuals can also schedule their vaccination appointments. The full functionality of the program is expected to be expanded statewide over the next several weeks.
The changes announced this week comprise a dramatic overhaul of the state’s vaccination system
In alignment with these changes, Thomas Aragon, M.D., director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance on Friday, January 22, 2021, that requires vaccinators to use at least 65% of the vaccine in their possession in a given week. Providers who do not meet that threshold must submit a plan to their Local Health Organization, to administer the vaccine in their possession. Vaccine providers would have 96 hours to submit this plan to local authorities and the plan must be approved by those local officials.
Those who fail to follow these new guidelines could have their vaccine supply repossess by local health authorities.