The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) listed medical marijuana employees as eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine during its first phase, putting them ahead of teachers and some of the highest risk groups.
The CDPH vaccine allocation guidelines, which were updated Feb. 13, deem medical cannabis industry employees eligible for the vaccine in the ongoing Phase 1a. This puts them ahead of other essential workers such as teachers and bus drivers, according to the Orange County Register. (RELATED: Newsom Expresses Frustration Over California’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, Tries To Shift Blame)
Medical marijuana retail workers move to head of vaccine line, ahead of teachers https://t.co/6os48bmMXn
— O.C. Register (@ocregister) February 15, 2021
The Orange County Register reports that individuals in the medical marijuana industry claim to be on the “front lines” of the pandemic and that they need the vaccine as much as any other group.
“Since 1996 we’ve been deemed medical, so how can you redefine us as something different all these years later?” a cannabis entrepreneur told the Orange County Register.
Critics of the new guidelines cite the necessity of vaccines in school reopenings, with over 600,000 California public school employees supposedly in need of vaccination, The Register reported. The Los Angeles Unified School District alone has 25,000 essential employees, including bus drivers, librarians and custodians.
Several counties in California have pushed back on the guidelines due to vaccine shortages and decided not to administer the vaccine to medical marijuana employees, the Orange County Register reported.
The updated guidelines also stated that after March 15 “healthcare providers may use their clinical judgment to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.”