SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Public transit workers in the Bay Area and across California will be eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines beginning next week, according to state officials.
The California Department of Public Health expanded eligibility starting Monday, March 15 to those who work in public transportation, in airports and commercial airlines, but not private airplanes.
"They are at high risk for occupational exposure and maintaining continuity of transportation operations is critical," officials said in an update posted Thursday.
Transit advocates hailed the state's new guidance following advocacy from operators, unions and local officials.
Evelynn Tran, the acting manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, noted that transit workers have been on the front lines since the start of the pandemic a year ago, transporting the most vulnerable. "The vaccination of our transit workers is urgently needed, and this is our shot at being the healthiest we can be – for ourselves and for each other. We are so pleased and could not be more ready!" Tran said.
John Courtney, president of ATU Local 265, which represents VTA bus and light rail operators said, "This advocacy and hard work did not happen inside of our COVID bubble. We fought for this to happen on the front lines while keeping transit service on the street."
"Transit workers are essential workers, and I'm so happy they are now all eligible for vaccinations" said Rebecca Saltzman, vice president of the BART Board of Directors.
Also on Monday, individuals aged 16 to 64 who are deemed at higher risk of death from the virus will also be eligible.
According to state officials, nearly 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in California as of Thursday.
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