File Photo | Mustang News Credit: Gracie Kitayama and Sophie Kroesche | Mustang News

San Luis Obispo County Public Health announced that residents 75 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine which began Monday, Jan. 18 — and appointments for the week are already filled. 

According to County Public Health Information Officer Michelle Shoresman, the phase two of vaccine distribution opened on Friday, Jan. 15, and the appointments filled up in less than four hours. 

“We have approximately 26,000 people over the age of 75 in SLO County,” Shoresman wrote in an email. “This week, we have approximately 4,000 doses to give.”

Although federal and state officials said that the next group to receive the vaccine would include people 65 and older, San Luis Obispo County chose to narrow the age group.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said in a Jan. 13 press release that the county’s decision was due to the shortage of vaccines they’ve received. She said that they only know about a week in advance how many vaccines they will receive. 

“We can only plan out as far as this one week horizon,” Borenstein wrote in the press release. 

According to the county’s vaccine website, all adults 65-years-old and older, as well as certain critical infrastructure workers, are all part of Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution plan. These groups, however, won’t receive the vaccine until after residents 75 and older do. 

Borenstein said that the older group of adults was prioritized since they’ve been more affected by COVID-19 in terms of severity and death rates.

“If you look at the mortality rates, as you go up from 65 to 75 to 85, it gets considerably worse,” Borenstein said.

The timeline of vaccine distribution depends on how many vaccines the county receives each week. According to Shoresman, the county will continue vaccinating the current phase until they see demand for appointments decrease. As of now they do not have a date for when vaccines will be offered to other risk groups within the next phase.

After Phase 1B groups have been vaccinated, the county will move onto vaccinating Phase 1C. This will include adults 50 to 64-years-old, additional critical infrastructure workers, and people ages 16 to 49-years-old that have underlying health conditions that increase their risk of getting COVID-19 severely.

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