County describes phases of distribution
Amid the hectic whirlwind of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout, it can be difficult to keep the phases, tiers and business classifications straight.
However, Phase 1 essential workers in Santa Barbara County are rapidly approaching their turn to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the timeline of the rollout and who classifies as an essential worker who will be eligible for a vaccine in Phase 1.
First things first. As of Thursday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed that while subject to change, officials’ best estimate of when the vaccination of essential workers will begin is early February, as part of Phase 1B Tier 1.
Beginning in December 2020, the county launched into Phase 1A, which has three tiers. Everyone in Phase 1A is scheduled to be vaccinated between December 2020 and February 2021.
Tier 1, which is already underway and close to complete, includes staff of acute care hospitals, psych entities, correctional facility hospitals, staff/residents in long-term care settings serving older and high-risk individuals, dialysis center staff and EMS personnel providing EMS services.
Tier 2 includes intermediate care facilities, home health/home care workers, community health workers and primary, correctional and urgent care clinics.
Finally, Tier 3 includes speciality clinics, lab workers, dental and pharmacy (if not included previously).
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the county public health director, announced Thursday that Santa Barbara County received permission to distribute the vaccine concurrently to all three tiers in the first phase.
“The CDC comes out with broad guidelines … There’s that tiny loophole based upon their epi-data,” she said at a Zoom webinar Thursday. “At the local level in Tier 1 Phase 1A, we saw that with the availability of the vaccine, due to hesitancy, we were able to move to 1B, and now we’re given permission to run it concurrently.
“If there are continual outbreak situations in a given jurisdiction, the Public Health Department has the ability to move the sector higher up,” she said. “So here, we are considering moving up our homeless shelters, jails, juvenile halls and personnel. That’s the flexibility we do have as a local jurisdiction.”
Phase 1B Tiers 1 and 2 are set to receive the vaccine between early February 2021 and mid-March 2021.
Tier 1 includes persons age 75 and older and one of three sectors of essential workers. The first round of essential workers to receive the vaccine will be: food/grocery and agriculture workers, education and childcare, and emergency services (firefighters, law enforcement, probation officers and corrections).
Within the food and agriculture sector includes workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retail that sells food or beverage products, animal/pet food, customer support service, IT support staff for online orders, workers supporting restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations including food preparation, carry-out and delivery food employees, and pickup/takeout or delivery workers. Also included are food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees, harvesting facilities, slaughter facilities, processing facilities, beverage production facilities and food packaging operations and processing workers.
The list also includes farmers, ranch workers, agribusiness support services, cannabis growers, agricultural and commodity inspection, fuel and storage facilities, warehouse workers, workers supporting products for home gardens, workers essential for food assistance programs, employees engaged in transport, production and distribution of chemicals, animal agriculture workers, workers who support forest products and more.
The complete list of each classification can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/essential-workforce.
The education and childcare section includes workers supporting public and private childcare establishments, pre-K establishments, K-12 schools, colleges and universities for purposes of distance learning, provision of school meals, or care, supervision and instruction of minors. In addition, essential workers are also workers and instructors supporting academies and training facilities and courses for the purpose of graduating students and cadets that compose the essential workforce for all identified critical sectors.
Finally, emergency services include emergency management, law enforcement, fire and rescue services, EMS, corrections, rehabilitation and reentry, search and rescue, hazardous material response, maritime and aviation emergency response, Public Safety Answering Points and 911 call center employees, Fusion Center employees, weather disaster/natural hazard monitoring workers, workers and contracted vendors who maintain, manufacture or supply equipment to support any of these entities, abuse and neglect workers, animal control officers and human officers, security staff and more.
Tier 2 of Phase 1B will include persons 65 to 74 with underlying medical conditions making them high risk, incarcerated individuals (congregate setting) and homeless and unhoused individuals.
Essential workers included in Tier 2 include transportation and logistical workers, industrial residential commercial workers and critical manufacturing workers.
This category includes seven key subsectors, covering aviation, highway and motor carrier, maritime transportation system, mass transit and passenger rail, pipeline systems, freight rail and postal and shipping.
The essential workforce for these seven sectors includes: employees supporting or enabling transportation functions (drivers, repair technicians, truck stop and rest area workers, towing and recovery services, roadside assistance, etc.); workers supporting or providing services that enable logistics operations for essential sectors, wholesale and retail sale (warehousing, cooling, storing, packaging, distributing); workers supporting maintenance and operation of essential highway infrastructure; workers of firms providing services, supplies and equipment enabling warehouse and operations; mass transit workers providing critical services; employees supporting personal and commercial transportation services; workers responsible for operating dispatching passenger, commuter and freight trains; maritime transportation and inland waterway workers; workers who support operation, inspection and maintenance of dams, locks and levees; workers ensuring continued maritime commerce; automotive repair, maintenance and transportation equipment facilities; transportation safety inspectors; manufacturers and distributors of lighting and communication systems; shipping workers; workers providing maintenance of transportation equipment; employees who maintain and repair vehicles; workers who support air transportation for cargo and passengers; workers critical to the manufacturing, distribution, sales, rental, leasing, repair and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment; workers who support the operation, inspection and maintenance of essential public works facilitates and operations; and road and line clearing workers.
Industrial, commercial, residential and sheltering facilities and services includes: construction workers; plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other service providers; workers who provide services necessary to maintaining safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals or senior living facilities; supply chain workers; hardware and building material store employees; warehouse operators; on-site property managers, building engineers, security staff, janitorial personnel and service technicians for commercial buildings; ecommerce workers; workers installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, heating, cooling and etc.; workers providing housing solutions; residential and commercial real estate workers (but no open-house viewings or any with multiple parties); legal or accounting services; workers who provide content for professional broadcast; social workers; workers who help elderly or disabled populations; workers providing dependent care services; workers in laundromats, laundry services or dry cleaners; and workers providing disinfection services.
Finally, those who can be vaccinated in Phase 1B Tier 2 are critical manufacturing workers, including: workers necessary for materials and products needed for supply chains of critical infrastructure sectors; workers manufacturing medical equipment and PPE; workers necessarily mining production and distribution; workers who support continued operations for any essential services and increase in remote workforce; and workers that enable the maintenance and continued operation of essential businesses and facilities.
If Public Health estimated the time frame correctly, all of these workers will be eligible for vaccinations between early February and mid-March.
Phase 1C simply follows the completion of 1A and 1B, and includes persons 65 to 74, persons 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, and essential workers in water and wastewater management, defense, energy, chemical and hazardous materials, communications (including newspapers) and IT and financial services, along with government operations and community services.
Phase 2, which includes all other persons 16 years or older and not already recommended for vaccination in Phase 1 and Phase 3, includes all others not vaccinated.
If a resident of Santa Barbara County does not know their eligibility for the vaccine, they can visit https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine to find where they fit into the order.