Newsom Moves To Speed Up Vaccination Rollout

Kat Schuster

CALIFORNIA — In response to a growing callout that the vaccination rollout in California has been too slow, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the list of eligible vaccinators would be expanded.

Pharmacists, dentists, national guard strike teams, nursing students and perhaps local paramedics and EMTs will be to join the ranks of those able to administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Newsom said during a Monday afternoon news conference.

The announcement comes as yet another region inches toward reaching intensive care unit capacity. The Bay Area region's ICU capacity was at 0.7 percent Monday.

"[We] need to vaccinate the vaccinators," he said, adding that the state was taking an "all hands on deck" approach to an "equitable and safe distribution of vaccines."

By widening the pool of vaccinators, Newsom said he hopes the effort will help the state meet its goal of administering 1 million doses by the weekend.

The governor also announced that 15 national guard strike teams had been deployed and were currently working with the state's Office of Emergency Services.

California has received more than 2.4 million vaccines to date, with some 783,000 vaccines administered so far, Newsom said.

The state will also unveil several large-scale vaccination sites including Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, a location that's served as a staple testing site for Angelenos for the last eight months.

The Dodger Stadium site will be able to vaccinate up to 12,000 people per day, Los Angeles County officials said. This shift in resources will "temporarily reduce testing capacity in L.A. County, but it will more than triple the number of daily vaccines available to be dispersed to Angelenos," according to a statement from Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Other large testing sites set to open will be Petco Park in San Diego and Cal Expo in Sacramento, which should open by the end of the week.

Newsom said "many, many" more large vaccination centers would be opening in the coming weeks and months.

The governor also discussed a general "loosening" of the vaccine's tier system to allow for a more smooth and "expedited" administration.

Last week, the state was working to decide just who would be included in the rest of the vaccine's tiering system. Newsom said those tiers were finalized within the state's Vaccinate All 58 plan.

As the state wraps up Phase 1A and moves into Phase 1B, those who work in the state's education system, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture industry are slated to be vaccinated next under 1B tier-one.

After that 1B tier-two includes those over 65 years old, those at risk of exposure within transportation agencies, industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities as well as those who work for "critical manufacturing" agencies.

Phase 1C includes Californians between ages 16-49 who have an underlying health condition or those between 50-64 years old.

Those who work in the following sectors would also be vaccinated under Phase 1C:

  • Water and wastewater

  • Defense

  • Energy

  • Chemical and hazardous materials

  • Communications and IT

  • Financial services

  • Government operations / community-based essential functions

But Newsom said vaccinating those past Phase 1C would require additional help from the federal government.

"We are obviously going to need substantially more doses to get into this next phase, and we hope to learn more with the new administration soon," Newsom said Monday.

The state also reported the latest capacity numbers for intensive care units in the five designated regions:

  • Northern California: 35%

  • Bay Area: 0.7%

  • Greater Sacramento: 9.7%

  • San Joaquin Valley: 0%

  • Southern California: 0%

The Golden State recorded another 39,839 cases Monday and an additional 264 deaths, Newsom said.

This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch