4 million more Californians prioritized as state expands vaccine eligibility

At least 4 million more Californians, of all ages, became eligible for the COVID vaccine on Monday as priority expands to those with health conditions and people living in some congregate settings. 

This is being done to ward off the most severe cases from the disease. 

Though somewhat complicated, new COVID vaccine eligibility all boils down to personal physical conditions or conditions of your work.

"It really has to be the honor system," said UC Berkeley Professor Dr. John Swartzberg, an expert in communicable diseases and vaccines. Providers may use their clinical judgment to vaccinate individuals aged 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk to get very sick from COVID-19.

"We know that we're not going to be asking people to have a letter from their doctor saying that they have this condition," said Dr. Swartzberg.

First, cancer patients with weakened immune systems qualify as of now. Also included: kidney disease patients stage 4 or above, oxygen dependent pulmonary disease patients, those with Down Syndrome and those who are pregnant.

Anyone with severe obesity qualifies along with type 2 diabetics with A1c levels greater than 7.5. and patients with heart failure, coronary disease or cadiomyopathies.

Those with sickle cell, or transplant patients with compromised immunity also qualify, as do solid organ transplant patients such as a kidney or liver. Those with severe life-threatening conditions are included along with those whose ongoing treatments would be made too difficult or those or whose overall care would be too challenging, if they contracted COVID.

Finally, those living in large groups such as homeless shelters, group homes, jails and other congregate settings are eligible as are people working in transportation or shipping, land, air or sea.

"They're being exposed on a continuous basis to lots of people in enclosed areas. Areas that we've seen a lot of contagion and a lot of disease and a lot of death. It spills over to the rest of society," said Schwartzberg who also said that things will soon change.

"The month of April, particularly after the first week of April we're gonna see a lot more vaccine available, and in May it's gonna be a lot more than April so I think we're coming to the end of this scarcity problem."

So, be honest and be patient while waiting your turn, it's coming soon.