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Seniors over 65-years-old will join healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents as being eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the Phase 1A vaccine distribution list.

In a Wednesday news release the California Department of Public Health said as vaccine demand subsides in healthcare workers, seniors would be added to the vaccine list in an effort to increase vaccination distribution, reduce hospitalizations and help save lives.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said expanding the eligibility would help protect people who face the most risk.

“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” Newsom said. “Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state.”

Health care workers and long-term care residents remain the highest vaccination priority and demand continues to far exceed vaccine supply.

Following a bipartisan letter from nine governors, including Newsom, the CDC said it would make more of the COVID-19 vaccine available to states and recommended expanding the Phase 1A group, the first to receive the vaccine, to include seniors 65-and-older.

A new system to let people know when they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was also announced. If people are not eligible yet to receive the vaccine they can sign up to be notified by text or email when they do become eligible.

The system is expected to launch next week and will have a second phase to help counties and cities with large, mass vaccinations events, and will allow people schedule their vaccinations at those events.

Newsom has asked the state to increase the pace of vaccinations and have 1 million more vaccinations given by the end of this week.

To reach that goal, 36,000 dentists were added to the list of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines. This follows a waiver in December allowing pharmacy technicians overseen by licensed pharmacists to give the vaccine.

• Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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