Advocacy groups question California's changes to vaccine distribution

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Posted at 11:03 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 14:03:12-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Another week and another set of changes to California's policy dealing with COVID-19.

This week, state health officials announced a shift to an eventual age-based vaccination program to help simplify things.

"Californians were understandably confused by mixed messages variability of eligibility across the state," said Yolanda Richardson, secretary of the California Government Operations Agency.

Healthcare workers and long-term care residents are still the priority and those in category 1B tier one. Once past that, the state will focus on older adults.

"Providers have reported administering a total of 2,893,493 vaccine doses statewide. Numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed. As of January 28, a total of 4,736,750 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems that have facilities in multiple counties," the state reported Thursday.

While some are moving closer to staying healthy, the state acknowledges there will be some populations of people that don't come to the front of the line as quickly.

"We're working through to make sure that communication is simple as well as understood because the worst thing is when people don't know where they are in the line," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

Disability Rights Advocates say that the new approach is a problem for some in high-risk categories.

"It feels like we're not a priority and that the state is saying, we know that there are equity issues if we leave out people with disabilities, and we want to solve those issues, but we're not sure how we're going to solve it," said Andy Imparato, executive director of Disability Rights California. "In the meantime, we're going to vaccinate a bunch of other people."

Imparato says he's concerned people with a very high risk of dying from COVID-19 might not have access to a vaccine until May or June.

"It just feels like they started out with a complex system that was trying to prioritize people with disabilities and complex health conditions for high risk, then they decided it was too complicated," Imparato said.

On Monday, the state rolled out a pilot website on which people can sign up to receive alerts on when they're eligible and then schedule an appointment.

The MyTurn system is operating on a trial basis for residents in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, with Gov. Gavin Newsom saying the system will hopefully be available statewide by early February.