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COVID Vaccines: California's Shift To Age-Based Distribution Sparks New Round Of Criticism - 'A Political Calculus'

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Facing criticism for a slow vaccine rollout, California's plans to shift COVID-19 vaccine distribution to an age-based system is drawing a new set of critics.

Like millions of Californians, 32-year-old Adam Byers suddenly found himself wondering when he'll get his doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week when the state vaccine tier distribution system changed.

Byers suffers from a neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness, even in his lungs. He should have been vaccinated in Tier 1C.

"The lung weakness in particular makes me a high risk person for severe COVID in the event I would get infected. I am on extreme lockdown, for non-medical reasons, I have left the house once in the last 11 months," Byers told KPIX 5.

The updated vaccine schedule prioritizing seniors and then descending by age puts Byers and others in the disability community months away from their COVID-19 doses.

"It was a political calculus, not a science calculus. There's no scientific reason to prioritize everybody over 65 before anybody else. There are plenty of people over 65 who are at lower risk of dying from COVID, than a 50-year-old with Down's syndrome who is living in a group home," says Andy Imparato with Disability Rights California.

The community wants the state to follow the CDC's guidance and return to the original vaccine rollout tiers.

California's new vaccine schedule also kicks essential workers back to their age group.

SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover says it's the wrong call to keep the state running. "Imagine if we didn't have grocery workers, the problems that would cause. Let alone, imagine we didn't have the nurses that we needed during this outbreak or the people that pick the trash up on the street," Schoonover said.

Byers calls the move frustrating and dangerous, "We're all very glad the seniors and health care workers who are the most at-risk are first. But we're second most at-risk and we're not being treated that way."

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