San Diego County Expands Vaccine Eligibility To People 75 And Older
San Diego County public health officials announced Monday that due to a slowing of appointments at COVID-19 vaccination sites, they have expanded the category of those eligible to receive a vaccine to those ages 75 and older.
"We took this action today to add individuals 75 years of age and older because they are at the greatest risk," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "It remains our intention to expand vaccines to those 65 and older the week of January 25, contingent on vaccine availability."
The new requirements apply to the Petco Park Vaccination Super Station and other county distribution sites providing vaccines. Previously, due to a shortage of vaccines, the county had authorized only healthcare workers to receive the vaccines, despite federal guidance allowing for those 65 and older to be innoculated.
UC San Diego Health’s Dr. Christopher Longhurst said the county’s move was an appropriate step to take as appointments for health care workers slowed down.
“We've done many many health care workers throughout the county, not all of them, but as we start to see some slack in the schedules I think it was a great call to say ‘let’s open up and get our seniors through as well,’” Longhurst said in a Zoom interview.
Slightly more than an hour after the county’s announcement expanding vaccinations to those 75 and older, appointments at Petco Park jumped to 5,240 -- Longhurst said that’s more than the daily goal of 5,000 to anticipate no-shows and those not qualified to receive the vaccination.
“We also unfortunately continue to have folks that work in research labs and other areas that are not yet eligible, but have signed up,” he said.
RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 In San Diego County
The county reported 1,890 new COVID-19 infections and 38 virus-related fatalities on Sunday, marking the 48th consecutive day with more than 1,000 new diagnoses. More than 3,000 daily infections have been reported on 18 days, while the 4,000-case mark has been crossed three times.
The county's cumulative case total rose to 211,787, and the number of deaths to 2,103.
The county has reported a 56% increase in the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the past 30 days and a 42% increase in ICU admittance during that same time frame.
The number of hospitalizations rose 104 on Sunday and the number of intensive care admissions increased by three.
A dozen new community outbreaks were confirmed on Saturday.
In the past seven days, 49 community outbreaks were confirmed, tied to 199 cases, bringing the total number of community outbreaks to 1,050.
The state of California authorized immediate access to COVID-19 vaccines for all residents aged 65 and older last week, following new guidance from the federal government. Local officials had urged patience.
"We understand older San Diegans want to get vaccinated, but right now there is a very limited number of doses for people 65 and older," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the agency's medical director of Epidemiology & Immunization Services. "We're asking San Diegans to be patient, more vaccine is expected in the region soon."
There are more than 620,000 people in San Diego County that belong in the Tier 1A vaccine distribution group. With the 65-and-older group, health officials are looking at another 500,000, for well over 1 million people eligible for vaccines.
Both available vaccines are not effective without two doses.
UC San Diego Health began administering some vaccines to older San Diegans last week.
"This means the start of hopefully the end of this COVID-19 crisis," said Donald Crawford, one of the first to get a vaccine at UCSD Health. "I got the vaccine because hopefully it will help me and others and we can eventually get back to normal."
The health agency hopes to have 70% of the county's population over the age of 16 — or 1,882,554 people — vaccinated by the end of June.
UCSD reported Friday 245 of its students have tested positive for COVID-19 since the winter quarter began Jan. 4.
Of the 245 positive cases, 109 live at UCSD and the other 136 live off campus in the San Diego area, according to university data. Sixty-one employees have also tested positive for the virus.
The university has recorded 92 cases among students returning after winter break, 14 among students who remained in on-campus housing and four among students who live off-campus.
About 7,300 students live on campus, with just 2% of class sections held in person during the winter quarter.