LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Millions more people in Los Angeles County and across California were able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, with eligibility opening up to those with underlying health conditions and disabilities.
That group accounts for an estimated 4.4 million people statewide, including 22-year-old Marilyn Chavez who got a visit from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies providing doses Monday in Lawndale.
"I don't want to get sick, that's why I need the vaccine for it," Chavez, who is autistic, said.
The dose Chavez received was leftover from an LASD event, giving the department the chance to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable at their homes.
"We had extra doses, so it's fantastic that it went to people that really need it and probably would have to wait a while before they would be able to get their doses so, it's great," Lt. Susanne Burakowski said.
As for those who need to make appointments, there is no requirement that patients provide documentation of their medical condition — a move that has raised fears of possible line-jumpers getting vaccinated before they become eligible.
People with underlying conditions are urged, but not required, to bring documentation to vaccination sites, such as a letter from a health-care provider or health agency. But if no such documentation is available, the person can merely sign a statement attesting to the fact that they have a qualifying condition.
"We certainly hope people won't try to take advantage of the situation and will be honest in terms of presenting with legitimate chronic health conditions that are serious or disabilities that are significant," Dr. Paul Simon, the county's chief science officer, said Friday.
The following groups of people between the ages of 16 and 64 are now eligible for the vaccine.
- Cancer, with a current weakened immune system
- Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
- Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
- Down syndrome
- Solid organ transplant, leading to a weakened immune system
- Sickle cell disease
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (but not hypertension)
- Severe obesity with a BMI of more than 40
- Type 2 diabetes with A1c level greater than 7.5%
- Or Having a disability that: makes serious illness from COVID-19 likely; would, if positive for COVID-19, limit the person's ability to received care vital to their well-being and survival; or would make the treatment for COVID-19 particularly challenging.
Also eligible Monday are custodians, janitorial staff, public transit workers, airport ground crews, social workers and foster parents.
This is in addition to those over 65, healthcare workers, food and agriculture workers, teachers and emergency responders.
Through March 10, at least 2.74 million doses have been administered in L.A. County, and 899,527 people have received two doses.
The widened eligibility comes on the same day that L.A. County officially exited the purple tier of the state's coronavirus recovery blueprint for the first time in more than six months. Indoor dining can resume beginning Monday and movie theaters and gyms can reopen.
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