California considers switching to age-based COVID-19 vaccination system

Registered Nurse Maggie Wiercioch administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Vaccination center on Friday, 011520, 011520. Dan Watson/The Signal

As COVID-19 vaccination continues for health care workers and those over 65, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday California is looking to prioritize the next phases of vaccination efforts by age, rather than occupation.

The move would eliminate part of the state’s planned phased vaccination approach, replacing it with an age-based eligibility system — only after vaccinating those now at the front of the line and continuing to prioritize first responders, food and agriculture workers, and teachers and school staff.

These changes were announced amid criticism that the state has not rolled out vaccines fast enough, with vaccinations still constrained by a limited supply.

Newsom said this could help to simplify and standardize the process to get all eligible Californians vaccinated quickly.

“(This) will allow us to scale up much more quickly and get vaccines to impacted communities much more expeditiously,” Newsom said. “With a framework always on equity we’re not losing sight of any of those fundamentals, any of our values, but we realize we have got to increase throughput here.” 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer addressed the change Tuesday, agreeing that the new system would be much simpler to administer — once they get enough doses to finish vaccinating the more than 2.5 million residents eligible under the current phases.

While the age-based approach could help to ease the strain on hospitals, as older people are more likely to suffer the worst COVID-19 effects, the move could also potentially push some younger essential workers further back in line.

Specifics about the new vaccine rollout plan or exemptions for those with underlying health conditions were not immediately released.

In addition to these changes, Newsom announced the launch of “My Turn,” a new statewide website that is now a pilot program in L.A. and San Diego counties, where residents can sign up to get notified when it’s their turn to be vaccinated and then schedule an appointment.

For more information on My Turn, visit

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