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Vaccine appointments go fast in San Diego as majority of residents become eligible

On the heels of the vaccine eligibility expansion, San Diego is poised to move into the less-restrictive red tier on Wednesday.

SAN DIEGO — A majority of San Diegans are eligible to get their coronavirus vaccine as of Monday under the county’s pre-existing conditions qualifications and appointments at super stations were scooped up within hours of opening.

A Community Health Assessment from the Health and Human Services Agency estimates 59% of adults are overweight or obese, slightly lower than the national average of 63%. About one in four San Diegans have high blood pressure. Both are on the list of pre-existing conditions that would qualify a person to receive a vaccine.

“We're going to try and make it as easy and seamless as possible [to get vaccinated]. We know our health care system partners know these individuals who have these conditions, and they are likely to increase their efforts and proactively reaching out to folks if they have vaccine available,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

While the county has encouraged people with pre-existing conditions to get vaccinated through their healthcare provider, they can visit county sites with an appointment.

Individuals are not required to show proof they have a condition.

“To protect confidentiality, verification documentation of the diagnosis or type of disability is not required,” says the California Department of Public Health on its website

The state says recipients will be required to sign an attestation. However, the county said it is a verbal process.

“This is a challenging situation, though, because you want to create a system that verifies the individuals actually have this while understanding and recognizing that not everyone has access to the health care system in the same way,” said Fletcher. “In some part, we're going to be dependent upon people to be honest. To not lie or attest or fake documentation to get a vaccine.”

On the heels of the vaccine eligibility expansion, San Diego is poised to move into the less-restrictive red tier on Wednesday.

Last week, the state met its goal of distributing two million vaccine doses in high-need ZIP codes, which adjusted the maximum case rate allowable for the red tier under California’s vaccine equity metric. San Diego also qualified to move after meeting health equity goals.

The shift will resume some indoor activities with limited capacities, such as dining and fitness, or allow other businesses that have been open to expand their capacity.

Under California’s current Blueprint for a Safer Economy, San Diego must have an adjusted case rate below 4.0 for the prior two consecutive weeks to move to the orange tier and must have been in its current tier for at least three weeks.

Last week, San Diego had a case rate of 8.8. The state will next calculate San Diego’s case rate on Tuesday.

“[It’s] good progress,” said Fletcher. “We're working our way out of this and are encouraged to continue our forward momentum.”

Watch: More Californians are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday


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