California Extends Vaccine Entry to Folks With Disabilities

Californians under 65 with disabilities or serious health problems can be vaccinated against the coronavirus starting March 15, state officials said on Friday. They responded to outrage over a recent change designed to accelerate the state’s slow adoption of vaccines.

California had phased out vaccines, prioritizing people at high risk over healthy adults and certain key workers over others. However, course changed in late January after the complexity of its system appeared to be slowing its spread. Under the new system, the many categories have been replaced by age-related levels.

But when people with chronic illnesses and disabilities were displaced by people 65 and over, the move sparked widespread anger and confusion. Bay Area activists accused Governor Gavin Newsom’s government of ill-treatment and criticized the governor on Twitter using the hashtag #HighRiskCA. California is now joining a handful of states that offer eligibility to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities or to people with underlying health conditions.

The adjustment will extend Covid-19 vaccinations to people over the age of 16 who are weakened or immunocompromised by cancer or an organ transplant. This also includes those who are pregnant or have chronic lung disease, Down’s syndrome, sickle cell disease, heart disease, severe obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease stage 4 or higher, and those whose life is or ongoing care is otherwise likely to be threatened by Covid-19.

“I want the disabled community to know, we heard you, and we will do more and better to provide access despite vaccine shortages,” said Governor Newsom on Friday, visiting a mass vaccination center at the San Francisco Moscone Center.

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