California officials announced their plans of opening mass vaccination centers to support the rapid inoculation of residents and to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 infection after the state released new, looser guidelines, allowing more people to be eligible for the treatment.
On Monday, California State Governor Gavin Newsom announced that as early as this week, they would open up new vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, and Cal Expo. The Bay Area would also see sites showing up as authorities try to vaccinate as many people as possible, prioritizing health care workers and appointments.
California officials started a broad immunization campaign last month, and the mass vaccination sites are the latest that would support the state’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The state inoculated its first residents at the beginning of its campaign with the help of front line workers.
“We recognize that the current strategy is not going to get us to where we need to go as quickly as we all need to go. So that’s why we’re speeding up the administration not just for priority groups but opening up large sites to do so,” Newsom said.
About 783,000 of the state’s available 2.9 million doses have already been distributed to different regions as of Sunday. Officials noted that health care providers have gone into people’s arms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that the areas with the highest vaccination rates, South Dakota and West Virginia, have administered 5,451 and 5,376 doses per 100,000 residents, respectively.
Local officials hope that the sped-up process of inoculation would help get more health care workers inoculated. Additionally, Bay Area authorities believe that the newly constructed large-scale vaccination sites would start vaccinating people included in Phase 1b in the next few weeks. The group includes nearly 15 million essential workers and elders aged 65 years and above.
Counties and health care providers were allowed to inoculate people listed in Phase 1b now under the less strict state guidelines. However, the vaccination of Phase 1a personnel should have been completed first. Several counties in the Bay Area expect to begin Phase 1b of their inoculation process around the end of January or early February as they work to finish vaccinating people in Phase 1a.
Phase 1a of California’s inoculation campaign includes nearly 2.4 million health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
The next process, Phase 1b, is expected to be divided into two parts; first would prioritize residents that work in the education, emergency services, and food and agriculture sectors, as well as those who are 75 years old and older; the second would be given to workers in critical manufacturing and transportation, people who are 65 years old and older, homeless and incarcerated people, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“In the next two weeks, we’ll finish vaccinating the first groups of people and begin vaccinating the next group. We’re looking at people over 75 and essential workers, such as teachers, child care workers, police, and grocery workers. As more residents become more eligible for immunizations, health care providers will let their members and patients know how to vaccine appointments,” said deputy health officer for Contra Costa County Dr. Ori Tzvieli said.
On Monday, county officials announced they would begin offering vaccinations this week, and in the next two weeks, would be joined by additional Safeway and Rite Aid stores to inoculate more people. However, authorities declined to reveal the locations of the vaccination sites due to prioritizing health care workers by appointments.