By Kerianne Lawson, Chief Programs Officer, Beach Cities Health District
Vaccine envy, FOMO (fear of missing out) or plain jealousy. Wondering if that person who posted their vaccination selfie on social media was really eligible or if they jumped the line. Wanting your dose but feeling guilty about the equity and wondering if you are taking a dose from someone who is more at risk than you are.
With limited vaccine supply, vaccine distribution has been phased across populations. Other counties, states and countries are at different places in their vaccine rollout. Here in Los Angeles County, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently limited to individuals in Phase 1A and 1B. This includes healthcare workers, staff and residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, residents 65+, people who live or work in congregate living spaces, people with serious health conditions/disabilities and persons who work in the following sectors: food and agriculture, education and childcare, emergency services and first responders, janitorial, custodial and maintenance services, and transportation and logistics.
You might be looking at the long list of eligibility, noticing you are not on it. You might be eligible in another state and wondering why they prioritized you, but California has not. You might even notice you are eligible in a different part of California, just not here in Los Angeles County. Why is it all so complicated?
This type of uncertainty can weigh on our mental health. Being confused and angry at the whole situation or even feeling resentment towards those who are already vaccinated are totally normal reactions. Relationships might be strained, and tensions are high. We have been waiting for so long. And the vaccines can feel both very close and very far away. Sometimes it seems no one knows the answer to “When can I get vaccinated?”
Finally, the answer is clear. Last week, the State announced expanded eligibility guidelines for the rest of the population. In Los Angeles County, all residents 50+ will be able to get vaccinated beginning April 1, and all residents 16+ starting April 15. (Note that residents 16-17 years old can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.) No more tiers, no more phases – everyone 16 and older can be vaccinated starting April 15.
Additionally, with three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – there is more vaccine supply than ever before to help fight the pandemic. The Janssen vaccine is particularly advantageous for the rollout because it requires only one dose instead of two doses, which will help vaccinate more people in the same amount of time. This means the County can go through the eligibility phases faster.
Even with this good news, it has been a year since the pandemic started and we are tired. The pandemic fatigue is real. Now, as the County has moved into the red and now orange tier for the first time since the State enacted the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the tide is turning. We must continue to be patient, as hard as that is, to wash our hands and wear our face masks while we wait our turn to get vaccinated.
Each day, as the County moves through the vaccine phases, we get closer to reaching more and more residents, and closer to vaccinating all those who want to get vaccinated. And there is a dose out there for you.
As we move forward through recovery, Beach Cities Health District is available to offer help and support. If you or someone you know in the Beach Cities needs assistance with errands, health-related information or referrals, please call our Assistance, Information & Referral line at 310-374-3426, ext. 256.