SAN DIEGO — Editor's Note: This story initially referenced both Police and Fire-Rescue. It has been updated to address that Fire-Rescue falls under the San Diego County guidelines listed for Phase 1A-Tier 1: Paramedics, EMTs, and others providing emergency medical services
Many are wondering how 186 San Diego Police officers ended up receiving the vaccine before their vaccination phase from Sharp Healthcare.
California is currently in Phase 1A, covering health care workers, as well as workers and residents at skilled nursing facilities.
According to a statement from the City of San Diego, it was made aware that Sharp had 300 vaccines due to expire so they brought in 186 San Diego police officers and approximately 120 EMT/paramedics to vaccinate.
San Diego County issued a statement that said Sharp Healthcare did not notify them in advance or the county would have directed the vaccines to 1A eligible recipients.
The distribution and vaccination protocol has been very specific by Governor Newsom from the moment the first vaccines arrived in the state. As a critical component of distribution equity, Newsom issued a stern warning to any medical provider who might try to skirt the established distribution order, allowing a friend or relative, or even someone willing to pay, to "cut the line".
"I want to make this crystal clear: If you skip the line or intend to skip the line, you will be sanctioned," he warned. "You will lose your license."
The police officers would be included in the next phase, phase 1B, which is expected to be approved this Wednesday. Divided into two tiers, it includes those 75 years old and older, as well as teachers, and grocery store, child care and emergency workers in the first tier.
The California Department of Public Health's Allocation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine During Phase 1A: Recommendations page has specific guidelines for avoiding waste of the vaccine:
To avoid wastage or disuse of scarce supplies and maximize their benefit to Californians:
- Health departments may allocate doses on the assumption that immunization will be accepted by some but not all who are offered the vaccine, and then adjust later allocations based on the number of doses that are accepted.
- After intensive and appropriate efforts to reach the groups prioritized at that moment, health departments and facilities may offer vaccine promptly to persons in lower priority groups when:
- Demand subsides in the current groups, or
Doses are about to expire according to labeling instructions.
Health Departments may temporarily adjust prioritization based on other resource constraints while continuing efforts to immunize higher priority groups as soon as feasible.
Public Information Officer for the City of San Diego, Ashley Bailey, released the following statement on Tuesday:
“As the healthcare partner of the City, Sharp Healthcare reached out around 7:30 p.m. yesterday to offer 300 free vaccinations to the City that were set to expire at 9 a.m. today. Knowing time was of the essence to use these valuable resources, the vaccinations were administered to first responders from the City’s Fire-Rescue and Police Departments who work closely with the public every day. There were approximately 120 vaccines administered to EMT/Paramedics from the Fire-Rescue Department and 186 administered to Police Officers. The City of San Diego recognizes the importance of keeping our public safety personnel healthy and will continue to work collaboratively with all our partners.”
While still a work in progress, Phase 1C is likely to include anyone 16 to 64 years old with an underlying health condition.