SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County will open vaccinations to new groups starting Saturday.
According to the county, education and childcare workers, emergency service workers, and those who work in agriculture and food will be eligible for the vaccine starting this weekend.
The announcement moves the county into Phase 1B of the vaccine effort.
“We will be opening up vaccines to about a half a million San Diegans,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday. “There will not be half a million appointments available Saturday or Sunday or Monday or for many weeks coming forward,” Fletcher cautioned.
The county decided to open up the vaccine appointments after a lack of first-dose appointment utilization by seniors, Fletcher said.
Fletcher said that vaccinations will be divided among agencies to help administer shots among the newly announced groups:
- Vaccinations for TK-12 educators will be handled by the San Diego County Office of Education and the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA).
- Everyone else eligible under this group will go to the county's vaccination website to schedule an appointment.
- Vaccinations for emergency workers will be handled through the county's website as well. Scripps Health will be providing help to get law enforcement vaccinated.
- Vaccinations for those in the food and agriculture category will be handled through the county's website. CAL FIRE will be helping to vaccinate farmworkers on-site.
"Because there are so many people in Phase 1B, Tier 1 we are working with the county to help prioritize access for education employees," said Laura Josh, the area vice president of VEBA. "We are a public nonprofit trust that provides healthcare and well-being services for public sector employers, including school districts."
Educators can go to vebavaccinates.com to sign up for updates.
"The county has set the guidelines as the 4th quartile schools according to the Healthy Living Index, so we will be using the county guidelines to determine who will have access to schedule their appointments.
Fletcher added that more than 783,000 vaccines have been administered in San Diego County so far. Of that, nearly 68% of seniors have been vaccinated. About 7.3% of San Diegans have been fully vaccinated.
"We're getting vaccines in arms at a very impressive rate," Fletcher said.
San Diego County started receiving a portion of the nearly 80,000 storm-delayed vaccine doses on Tuesday night, allowing the county to reschedule all missed second doses and resume first-dose appointments.
"I think it’s just great to encourage more people to get this so we just move on," said Sean Hale, the general manager at El Cruce+241 in Chula Vista.
The restaurant opened in October, during a challenging time in the pandemic.
With vaccine eligibility opening to restaurant workers this Saturday, Hale hopes this could be the start of small businesses recovering.
"We're very excited, this is exactly what we’re waiting for," he said. "We need people to feel safe when they’re coming out, so we can start seeing more people coming back to restaurants and coming out and feeling comfortable."