COVID-19

Healthcare workers take front of line for Calif. COVID-19 vaccine distribution

While California is headed into a second shelter-in-place order as COVID-19 cases surge, California Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed the state’s initial coronavirus vaccine distribution plan Thursday. 

“Help is on the way,” Newsom said. “There is light at the end of this tunnel. We are not in a permanent state. This is a temporary state. This is the third wave of a pandemic with a vaccine that’s not under development – a vaccine that’s now being distributed, not by one distributor, but by many different distributors.” 

Earlier in the week Newsom revealed that California will receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer manufactured coronavirus vaccine, which requires two doses per person, in mid-December. 

The state expects that more COVID-19 vaccines from other manufactures will arrive throughout the following months. 

The first phase – called Plan 1A by the state – will distribute the vaccine doses to three tiers of health care workers based on a prioritization that was determined by the state. 

“You get a sense of these tiers in terms of our prioritization of the distribution based upon the scarcity of the first available doses, 327,000,” Newsom said. 

Individuals who are in Tier 1 and will receive the top priority are working in the following sectors: acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable patients, paramedics, EMTs and other providing emergency medical services and dialysis centers. 

Tier two involves people working in intermediate care facilities, home health care and in-home supportive services, community health workers, public health field staff and primary care clinics, which includes federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics. 

The third tier of the initial vaccine distribution plan involves health care workers in other sectors that were not included in the previous two tiers, including specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental and oral health clinics and pharmacy staff. 

“That’s the priority,” Newsom said. “This went through the drafting work group. This went through our community advisory. These are their recommendations based upon an equity and fairness lens looking at this holistically bottom-up, not top-down, and looking at the nuances and looking at the sub prioritizations in terms of the priorities.” 

The doses will be split through six regions in the state, and Newsom said each region will directly order the doses from Pfizer on Friday. 

Newsom also said the state will ensure that anyone looking to move ahead of the line will not do so. 

“We will be very aggressive in making sure that those with means, those with influence, are not crowding out those that are most deserving of the vaccines,” Newsom said. “And I mean to say that those that think they can get ahead of the line and those that think because they have resources or they have relationships that will allow them to do it – we also will be monitoring that very very closely. 

“We will prioritize and we will expect that everyone in the health care delivery system is held to the same ethical standard of prioritizing truly those that are most in need, and the real heroes in this pandemic are frontline health care workers. And those are the folks that we must protect and we must prioritize moving forward.” 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.