California Considers Moving Away From Vaccine Tier System

As California struggles through a rough rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, health officials are in preliminary discussions about potentially shifting away from the vaccine tier system.

During a California Department of Public Health Community Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 20, California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke emphasized the need for the vaccine rollout to be simple and clear.

The state is discussing whether it should create age-based systems for vaccine distribution and completely move away from the tier system, according to ABC7.

"I think that age is probably going to be a big driver for the next wave of vaccinations by the state," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a Standford epidemiologist. "That's what the UK did. That's what a lot of other states are doing is they're just going by age."

Maldonado is also a member of California's COVID-19 vaccine safety review group.

"We've been getting pretty good signals that they need to make it a lot simpler," she said. "Absolutely. It's too confusing."

The UCSF chief pharmacy exec, Desi Kotis, told ABC7 that the vaccine rollout still needs to take into account risk factors beyond age. The current tier system does this by prioritizing essential workers and people living in communal settings.

Ultimately, what's holding California back is a supply issue. But doctors are hopeful that the Biden administration will pull through for the public.

"We're going to get federal help for delivering vaccines, they're going to be setting up federal vaccination centers, we're gonna get a lot of help," said UCSF's Dr. George Rutherford. "And it's sort of just in the nick of time."

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