People 16-64 with underlying health conditions now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Berkeley has begun offering the COVID-19 vaccine to a newly eligible set of residents on Monday, including people between 16-64 years old with conditions that put them at greatest risk of dying from COVID-19.

Until now, Berkeley and the rest of the Bay Area were only vaccinating essential workers, people above the age of 65, teachers, food service and agriculture workers and select other groups. The state opened up eligibility to the new group on Monday, and city officials confirmed they will be going forward with the new tier.

People with these conditions can now book an appointment for a vaccine in Berkeley, according to state guidelines:

  • 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 greater than or equal to 40)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

Also included in the new tier are people with a physical or mental disability that is so severe that their risk of death from COVID-19 is higher, or they can’t care for themselves if they contract the virus, public transit workers and people in high-risk congregate settings (such as prisons and homeless shelters).

Lisa Warhuus, director of Berkeley health, housing and community services, said residents should check with their healthcare provider to determine if they qualify for the new tier of vaccines, or review the state guidelines. The city will not be asking for written verification about anyone’s health status at vaccination sites but they will have to say they are qualifying under health-based criteria, she said.

While these groups are now eligible for the vaccine, availability in Berkeley and Alameda County still needs to catch up to demand. Appointment booking through Curative (Golden Gate Fields) or the state MyTurn site didn’t show any available slots at CVS Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital or other locations as of Monday.

The city, Alameda County, and partner agencies like LifeLong Medical Care are also running mobile clinics at homeless shelters, encampment sites like People’s Park and neighborhood hubs for people who may have trouble accessing online appointment systems.

Other residents who meet eligibility tiers can get vaccinated by their healthcare provider once availability ramps up. See a full list of vaccine sites and more resources at Berkeleyside’s COVID-19 vaccine guide.