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COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Extends to a Variety of Essential Workers

California is entering Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, opening up eligibility to essential workers and residents with certain health conditions or disabilities that put them at a greater risk for COVID-19 complications starting March 1.

Educators, agricultural workers, law enforcement, emergency responders and grocery workers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in this new rollout. 

“The state has opened eligibility to Phase 1B (Tier 1) and requires local health departments to dedicate a specific allocation to this group. They will begin scheduling appointments for people eligible under Phase 1B  when this vaccine supply is confirmed,” Orange County Health stated in a daily news brief on Facebook.

This move into Phase 1B expands the number of eligible residents for vaccination from 17 million to 20 million. 

According to the CDC, Phase 1B of the roll-out in states should allocate vaccinations to “persons aged ≥ 75 years and non-health care frontline essential workers.” 

Phase 1C, which California plans on moving into March 15, includes individuals aged 65-74 years, individuals aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not included in Phase 1B.

There are approximately 150,000 K-12 education workers in Orange County. About 6 million students from K-12 of California’s public schools have not been inside a classroom since the onset of the pandemic last March. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a press conference that 75,000 vaccines will be designated each week for education workers on Feb.16.

According to Orange County Department of Education spokesman Ian Hanigan, all educators, whether teaching in person or online, will be able to register for vaccination appointments through the Othena app.

The county has also opened specific vaccination sites for educators, including locations at Garden Grove Unified district. The Garden Grove point of dispensing (POD) closed Feb. 18 due to short supply of vaccines. Capistrano Unified is expected to be open as of March 1.

The Orange County Department of Education has agreed to have vaccination sites set up on other school properties of participating districts including Santa Ana Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified, Anaheim and Orange Unified. 

“In terms of logistics and supplies and staffing, this is certainly beyond anything we’ve ever done before as a county office,” Hanigan told the OC Register

In Orange County, there are a total of about 476,843 combined workers in education and childcare, food and agriculture, and emergency services. Orange County will require vaccination sites to allocate 30% of its vaccines to Phase 1B. 

Food facilities’ leadership and management have been encouraged by the FDA to support their workers in receiving the vaccine. 

Kroger employees are being provided with incentives up to $100 in order for them to take the vaccine. Law enforcement workers have already begun receiving the vaccine. 
“In addition for Orange County, law enforcement who work in high positive COVID rate areas such as Anaheim and Santa Ana as well as correctional facilities and homeless shelters experiencing outbreaks can get vaccinated at this time,” the Orange County Health Care Agency shared on their website.

Liliana Huerta is a City News Intern for the 2021 winter quarter. She can be reached at lshuerta@uci.edu.