As California continues its vaccination roll out, the California Department of Public Health’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC) has updated its priority list. The state prioritized essential health workers and long-term care residents and put all the rest of us into phases based on risk and level of exposure. This initial plan was updated at the CVAC’s January 6th meeting and again on January 13th to reflect current virus data and vaccine availability. This most recent change impacts seniors and caregivers in San Diego because everyone over age 50, regardless of health status, has effectively moved up in line.

The California Department of Public Health’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee is the group that decides which citizens are in which tier of California’s vaccination plan. The CDC originally developed the tier system in 2005 as part of its national Pandemic Influenza Plan, and it’s an integral part of our National Pandemic Strategy.  The tier system allows health officials to manage access to a limited supply of vaccines during a pandemic based on who is most vulnerable and most essential.

Governor Newsom launched the state’s ‘Vaccinate All 58’ program in mid-December by prioritizing essential health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Most of the state is still in Phase 1A but the priority of the people ‘on deck’ changed slightly last week and again this week.  Currently, all adults 65 and over are in Phase 1B Tier 1, meaning they can get the vaccine as soon as Phase 1A is complete in their area, whether they have any underlying conditions or not. Further, Californians age 50 to 64 were moved to Phase 1C regardless of their health status.

This revised Phase information showing the updates in italics is from the website:

Phase 1A

    • Healthcare workers
    • Long-term care residents

Phase 1B

1B Tier One:

    • Individuals 65 and older (ages 65-74 moved from 1B Tier Two)
    • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
      • Education and childcare
      • Emergency services
      • Food and agriculture

1B Tier Two:

      • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
        • Transportation and logistics
        • Industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services
        • Critical manufacturing
      • Congregate settings with outbreak risk:
        • Incarcerated
        • Homeless

Phase 1C

    • Individuals 50 -64 years of age (underlying health condition restriction lifted)
    • People 16-49 years of age who have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19
    • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
      • Water and wastewater
      • Defense
      • Energy
      • Chemical and hazardous materials
      • Communications and IT
      • Financial services
      • Government operations / community-based essential functions

What does this mean for caregivers and people in home care in San Diego? It means that family members and caregivers over 50 will be able to get the vaccine much earlier than previously planned, as underlying health conditions are no longer a requirement. It also means that seniors over age 65 will be able to get the vaccine immediately whether they’re in home care and or a resident of a care facility. Californians under age 50 who are not at risk based on their health or their work, considered Phase 2 in San Diego County, should expect to have access to the vaccine after Phase 1C is completed.

If you have questions about where you are in line, call the state’s hotline at 1-833-422-4255. If you’d like to see San Diego County’s specific plan, review their Covid-19 Vaccine page. Currently, San Diego County vaccination locations are open to Phase 1A Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 residents, but as supplies and vaccination rates change, this information will too.