San Diego Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

Emma Truchan , Editor-In-Chief

  In an ongoing effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, San Diego County has recently declared that senior citizens, frontline essential workers, and individuals aged 16-64 with qualifying health conditions are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, with all Californians older than 16 soon to follow.

   According to the San Diego County Government website, persons in Phase 1B, including “…persons aged 75 years and older, persons 65-74 years of age, [and] frontline essential workers at risk of exposure through their work in the following sectors: Emergency Services (including emergency operations workers, fire and law enforcement); Childcare and Education; and Food and Agriculture,” were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in March. As of April 1, all adults 50 years and older became eligible and on April 15, anyone 16 and older is eligible (sandiegocounty.gov).

   The phase system was made per recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control, and is meant to “[…] decrease death and serious disease as much as possible, preserve functioning of society, [and] reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities” (cdc.gov).

   Phase 1C opened March 15, and included individuals aged 16-64 with severe high-risk disability and/or health conditions such as cancer, Down Syndrome, Type II diabetes, and pregnancy. The subsequent phase, Phase 2, includes the general population over 16 years of age (sandiegocounty.gov).

   According to the Associated Press, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that all Californians over the age of 16 will be eligible for the vaccine starting April 15. President Joseph Biden directed all states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1, according to CBS News (cbsnews.com). 

   According to NBC 7 News, the San Diego County Office of Education set up a separate vaccine appointment system for school employees in hopes of streamlining the process. San Diego County set aside 20 percent of the vaccine supply for those working in education (nbcsandiego.com).

   High school students who are frontline essential workers are currently eligible. Junior Martina Greco, a food industry worker, received her first COVID-19 vaccine March 5. “When I got my [first] shot, it didn’t hurt and I had no physical symptoms afterwards. I definitely feel safer working, because I know that if I do get exposed to COVID, my body will be able to fight it off,” said Greco.

   With a greater range of demographics eligible for the vaccine, vaccine supply has become a greater concern. Due to limited supply, the vaccination appointment process has been competitive. Greco stated, “Scheduling my vaccines was very difficult as a minor and as someone not included in the 65-or-older demographic. However, when I did find a place to get my shot, it was very quick and safe.”

   Although vaccine eligibility has expanded, San Diego vaccine sites will prioritize second doses, according to the County News Center (countynewscenter.com).