Supporters of farm workers, teachers, salespeople and other essential workers fear they will have to wait until this summer to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as California is considering giving way to older residents.
State officials said the move makes sense, as older people have a much higher rate of hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19. But with California struggling to get and give the vaccine, it could take until June to vaccinate all Californians 65 and older, the Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.
That could mean that teachers and school staff probably won't get vaccinated until this summer, said Debra Schade, a school board member for the Solana Beach School District in San Diego County and a director of the California School Boards Association.
"It will be a tough job to open those districts … without the risk mitigation the vaccine would provide," she said.
Some local governments have already begun to vaccinate essential workers, and Fresno County said it will offer vaccines to about 3,000 farm workers on Monday. But Noe Paramo, an attorney with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, said that without clear guidelines from the state to prioritize the vaccination of farm workers, counties could decide to leave them out.
Three-quarters of those who died from COVID-19 in California were 65 or older, according to data recently presented to a state vaccine advisory committee.
By first vaccinating older adults, the state could reduce the number of sick people, which could benefit the community as a whole, said Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, director of the California Department of Public Health at the meeting.
The number of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations is declining across California, but health officials warn these trends are being dampened by very high death rates.
The state reported 429 deaths on Sunday, two days after reaching a one-day record of 764, according to the Health Ministry. The death toll in California since the start of the pandemic soared to 36,790, while the total number of cases was over 3.1 million.
Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide was 17,810, a 17% drop in two weeks.
The positivity rate for people being tested has dropped by 10% statewide in the past week, meaning fewer people will end up in hospitals.
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