As of Monday, the pool of California residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now encompasses nearly half of the state’s population. Among those who are newly eligible: individuals ages 16 to 64 with severe underlying health conditions or disabilities; utility workers who respond to emergencies; public transit workers; janitors in non-healthcare settings; and disaster service workers activated for emergency response. Also eligible this week: massage therapists and librarians, as well as residents of high-risk congregate settings. The addition of individuals with high-risk health conditions and disabilities has been expected for several weeks. Meanwhile, the state has been negotiating with unions on the addition of specific job sectors, including transit workers and janitors. As of Monday, all joined the currently eligible population of healthcare workers, individuals over age 65, and workers in food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services. However, even while many more people became eligible for a vaccine as if Monday, “there won’t be any more vaccine supply right away,” Dr. Aimee Sisson, Yolo County’s health officer, said in a PSA produced by Davis Media Access. “We will not have enough doses to immediately vaccinate everyone who is eligible,” said Sisson, “so I ask for your continued patience as we vaccinate residents.” Those newly eligible because they are at high risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19 will have to self-attest to that fact and will not be required to provide documentation. That self attestation can be done at the vaccine clinic site, said Sisson. Conditions which make an individual eligible for the vaccine are: * 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 percent. Or, if as a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability, 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 state is urging these individuals to reach out to their healthcare providers first for a vaccine appointment. “We strongly recommend individuals with these conditions seek vaccination with a primary healthcare provider or system, or in an alternate clinical setting,” the state said. “Check first with your usual healthcare provider to see if they have vaccines and available appointments. Healthcare providers who have vaccines may also begin reaching out to you, as a patient with a significant, high-risk medical condition or disability known to the provider, to schedule your vaccine appointments.” Pharmacies are also an option, but during March, the federal government is directing that all school and child care staff be prioritized for pharmacy vaccinations so supply for other populations remains limited. The Yolo County health department will continue to provide links to vaccine clinics on its vaccine webpage (www.yolocounty.org/coronavirus-vaccine) so residents should check back frequently as appointments, when posted, fill quickly. Vaccine delivery The state also announced last Friday that 2 million COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered in the state’s most disadvantaged communities, triggering changes to the color-coded, tier-based blueprint for reopening. Earlier this month, the state had announced its plan to focus on vaccine equity by targeting 40 percent of vaccine doses to the state’s hardest-hit communities where transmission rates and disease burden have been the highest during the pandemic. When 2 million doses had been administered to residents of those communities, the state said, more counties would be able to progress from the purple tier to the red. “California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 vaccine doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.” The Blueprint will be updated again when 4 million doses have been administered in the state’s most disadvantaged communities, at which time Yolo County may move more quickly through the tiers.