State officials launch My Turn coronavirus vaccine eligibility tool
State officials on Tuesday, Jan. 26, launched a trial run of the new vaccine eligibility tool My Turn, which all Californians will eventually be able to use to check if they’re eligible for a coronavirus shot and be notified when it’s their turn.
Only healthcare workers and people age 65 and older in Los Angeles and San Diego counties can immediately book appointments during this pilot, but the program is expected to be expanded to all state residents “in coming weeks,” said Government Operations Agency Secretary Yolanda Richardson, who is heading California’s vaccine distribution and operations.
The goal is to standardize vaccine information and data across the state for both users and administrators, Richardson said Tuesday during a news conference. Across the state, mass vaccination pushes have been hindered by low supply, a lack of administrators and confusion among target groups, such as seniors.
“I want to make sure we can scale up so that when more vaccine is available, Californians can access that infrastructure,” Richardson said. “We understand that vaccine supply is limited, but we also need to address that the supply we have now needs to be administered as quickly as possible.”
“This is a pilot site,” says the myturn.ca.gov landing page; it is available in English and Spanish. “My Turn is where you can find out if it’s your turn to get vaccinated and schedule vaccination appointments. If it isn’t your turn yet, you can register to be notified when you become eligible.”
The tool is part of a broader push by state health leaders to better organize California’s piecemeal vaccination drive, which consists of public and private health systems, pharmacies, hospitals, community health clinics and pop up and mobile sites.
With My Turn, the array of administrators will have a streamlined way to report the administration of doses quickly, data the state relies on to inform decisions on which groups to focus on next, with a keen eye on getting shots into hard-hit and underserved communities.
“We want to make sure that nothing slows down the administration of vaccine other than the pace in which vaccine arrives in the state, and we’re going to do that by balancing safety, speed and equity while scaling up to meet the level of vaccine needed in the state,” Richardson said.
Statewide, administrators have tripled the pace of vaccine administration over the past month, from 40,000 to about 125,000 shots each weekday, said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
Ghaly also noted Tuesday that exactly a year had passed since the state’s first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
“There’s been a measurable loss in this last year, over 37,500 Californians have lost their lives,” he said. “It also has shaped a number of our families, our households, our communities in ways.”
Meanwhile, case rates, testing positivity and hospitalizations, three key pandemic tracking metrics, are trending down across the state, he said.
On Monday, California leaders lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide, the strictest mandate since early in the pandemic in response to dwindling intensive care beds amid the end-of-year coronavirus surge.
Still, 99% of California residents live in counties that are in the most-restrictive purple tier of the state’s four-level pandemic tracking system, which governs what businesses and public places can open and how they can operate.
Southern California had been under the order since Dec. 6, when the adjusted adult ICU bed availability among the region’s hospitals fell below 15%.
The easing of rules surprised many who didn’t expect the ICU capacity outlook in Southern California – which stagnated at an adjusted 0% for weeks – to improve tremendously over the next month.
However, Department of Public Health officials on Monday said Southern California’s capacity is set to boost to 33.3% bed availability by Feb. 21, offering a glimpse at projection data that state leaders for weeks had used to decide whether the latest regional lockdowns should remain without publicly releasing the data.
If the state’s projections hold, Southern California, previously a region where open ICU beds were most scarce, will be better off than California as a whole, which is expected to have 30.3% ICU capacity in a month.
Southern California is also expected to beat the rest of the state in the average number of people each coronavirus-infected person will pass the virus onto – a metric called R-effective – according to Department of Public Health projections.
With reproduction rates, the number 1 is the line of scrimmage. A figure below 1 means the coronavirus is losing momentum and spreading more slowly while a figure above 1 means each infected person is spreading it to one or more people.
The 11-county Southern California region – which stretches from Mono to San Diego – by Feb. 21 will have a viral reproduction of 0.85, meaning for every person who is infected, they will pass it onto less than one other person on average. The rest of the state’s reproduction rate by then will be 0.88, the public health forecast showed.
After a statewide rise and fall in transmission over the summer, R-effective rose again in late October and fell sharply in late December, showing that the latest stay-at-home orders and collectively avoiding holiday gatherings worked, Ghaly said Tuesday.
“We want to see it go even lower if we can,” he said.