It was big news last week when the state announced that everyone 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 15.

In the meantime, people 50 and older, and younger people with qualifying jobs and medical conditions, can sign up for appointments. 

Santa Barbara County could make more people eligible earlier, like nearby San Luis Obispo County did (30 and older are eligible as of Wednesday), but public health officials have not indicated they plan to do that. 

So who can sign up for appointments now? 

The overall categories are: 

» People 50 years old and older.

» People 16-49 with certain health conditions or in congregate living environments.

» Healthcare workers.

» Food and agriculture workers.

» Education and childcare workers.

» Emergency services workers.

» Public transit workers, airport workers and commercial airline workers.

The state and county COVID-19 websites have details for each category.

Individuals 16 and Older at Higher Risk Due to Health Condition

According to the state:

Healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals aged 16-64 who are deemed to be at highest risk to get very sick from COVID-19 due to the following severe health conditions:

» Cancer, current with weakened immune system.

» Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above.

» Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent.

» Down syndrome.

» Solid organ transplant, leading to a weakened immune system.

» Pregnancy.

» Sickle cell disease.

» Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (but not hypertension).

» Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2).

» Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%.

Healthcare providers may also vaccinate individuals with  developmental or other severe disabilities or illness if:

» The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection.

» Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to get ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival.

» Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability.

These include people with a range of physical and behavioral disabilities, such as people with serious mental illness and those with serious substance use disorder. 

All enrolled consumers of:

» Regional centers.

» Independent living centers.

» In-home supportive services.

» Community-based adult services/adult day health centers.

» Medi-Cal HIV/AIDS waiver. 

» Medi-Cal home and community-based alternatives waiver.

» Medi-Cal assisted living waiver.

» Programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly.

» California children’s services program (if the child is 16-21 years old).

» California genetically handicapped persons program.

No documents are required as proof for this category. Qualifying people are asked to sign a self-attestation that they are eligible. 

Individuals 16 and Older at Higher Risk Due to Congregate Living Spaces

According to the state, people who live and work in a congregate residential setting are eligible for vaccine appointments now, which includes detention facilities (prisons, jails, juvenile halls); homeless shelters; and behavioral health facilities.

People experiencing homelessness are also eligible. 

People Eligible for Vaccine Appointments Now Due to Occupation 

The state largely moved to an age-based system after prioritizing healthcare workers, food and agriculture workers, and emergency services workers, but public transit, airport and commercial airline workers are included since “they are at high risk for occupational exposure, and maintaining continuity of transportation operations is critical.” 

Healthcare workers include: 

» Staff of acute care hospitals, psych, correctional facility hospitals.

» Paramedics, EMTs and others providing emergency medical services. 

» Staff/residents in long term care setting serving older and high risk.

» Dialysis Center staff.

» Intermediate care facilities for persons who need non-continuous nursing supervision and supportive care.

» Home health care and in-home supportive services.

» Home Care Providers who are performing activities of daily living (bathing, feeding, etc) for a person and are the main caregiver. 

» Community health workers, including promotoras.

» Public health field staff. 

» Primary Care clinics, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics, and urgent care clinics.

» Specialty clinics.

» Laboratory workers.

» Dental and other oral health clinics.

» Pharmacy (if not included previously).

» Certified massage therapists.

Food and agriculture workers include: 

Workers supporting:

» Groceries. 

» Pharmacies.

» Convenience stores.

» Retail that sells food or beverage products.

» Retail that sells animal/pet food.

» Retail customer support service.

» Information technology support staff for online orders, pickup/takeout or delivery.

» Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations, including food preparation, carry-out and delivery food employees.

Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees to include those employed in:

» Food Ingredient Production and processing facilities.

» Aquaculture and Seafood Harvesting Facilities.

» Livestock, Poultry, Seafood slaughter facilities.

» Pet and Animal Feed processing facilities.

» Human food facilities producing by-products for animal food.

» Beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging, including recycling operations and processing.

Farmers, farm and ranch workers, and agribusiness support services to include those employed in

» Auction and sales.

» Grain and oilseed handling.

» Agribusiness storage, processing and distribution.

» Animal food, feed, and ingredient production.

» Animal food packaging, and distribution.

» Manufacturing, Packaging, and Distribution of veterinary drugs.

» Truck delivery and transport.

»  Farmers, farm and ranch workers, support service workers and their supplier employees producing food supply domestically and for export to include those engaged in raising, cultivating, harvesting, packing, storing, or delivering to storage or to market or to a carrier for transportation to market any agricultural or horticultural commodity for human consumption; those engaged in producing and harvesting field crops; cannabis growers; agricultural and commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; biodiesel and renewable diesel facilities; and other agricultural inputs.

» Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution and ingredients used in these products including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers, and blockchain managers.

» Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail.

» Workers supporting the growth and distribution of plants and associated products for home gardens.

» Workers in cafeterias used to feed workers, particularly worker populations sheltered against COVID-19.

» Workers in animal diagnostic and food testing laboratories.

» Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments (Must have regular face to face contact with the public).

» Government, private, and non-governmental organizations’ workers essential for food assistance programs (including school lunch programs) and government payments (Must have regular face to face contact with the public).

» Employees of companies engaged in the production, storage, transport, and distribution of chemicals; medicines, including cannabis; vaccines; and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including seeds, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids.

Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in:

» Veterinary health (including those involved in supporting emergency veterinary or livestock services).

» Raising of animals for food.

» Animal production operations.

» Livestock markets.

» Slaughter and packing plants, manufacturers, renderers, and associated regulatory and government workforce.

»  Transportation supporting animal agricultural industries, including movement of animal medical and reproductive supplies and material, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; and associated regulatory and government workforce.

» Workers who support sawmills and the manufacture and distribution of fiber and forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood and fiber products.

» Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution.

» Workers at animal care facilities that provide food, shelter, veterinary and/or routine care and other necessities of life for animals.

Education and childcare workers

» All formal and informal childcare workers, including day care providers. Examples of informal childcare workers include: public and private recreation programs such as YMCA/YWCA, on campus afterschool programs, individuals or programs receiving a child care subsidy. Occasional babysitting should not be included.

» Resource Family approved homes and certified family homes providing emergency or short-term foster care. While foster care is in a home care setting, the nature of it is temporary and may be a revolving door of children staying and leaving needing care.

» Those working in Children’s Residential Community Care facilities (e.g. Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program, group homes, temporary shelter care facilities).

» All staff in colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges, and other postsecondary education facilities.

» All staff in educational support services and administration.

» All staff in pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools.

» All staff in technical and trade schools.

» Any other workers involved in child and/or student care, including school bus drivers and monitors, crosswalk guards, etc.

» Library staff with occupational exposure to students.

For more information, click here to read Where to Get a COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment in Santa Barbara County.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.