AARP Urges Governor Newsom to Maintain Vaccine Priority for Californians 65+

Posted on 01/25/21

Covid Vaccine

On January 24, 2021, AARP sent the following letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom:

Dear Governor Newsom:

On behalf of AARP’s 3.3 million members in California, I thank you for the efforts you have undertaken to address the unprecedented public health and economic crisis we face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, as a member of the California Community Vaccine Advisory Committee, AARP is very concerned that some advocates on the committee are ignoring the facts and science and pushing the state to deviate from its vaccine deployment strategy to prioritize people 65 and over in Phase 1b, Tier 1.

We recognize that the scarcity of vaccine supplies has caused some advocates to lobby for their constituents, regardless of what the science tells us. While we acknowledge the many challenges in determining how to equitably, safely, and effectively distribute the vaccine, we urge you to stay the course and continue to be guided by science and data.

We understand these are difficult decisions, but as you grapple with issues of equity, I would remind you that age is an equity factor, and, in this pandemic, it is the one factor that cuts across all demographics. 

As of January 20, nearly 93 percent of the 34,345 deaths from COVID-19 in California have been among people 50 and older. The data clearly show that older people are at a much higher risk of serious illness and death if they contract COVID-19.  In addition, this is affecting multicultural communities at alarming rates.  Among Latinos, individuals over the age of 50 account for 90 percent of deaths.  In the African American and Asian American communities, those over the age of 50 account for 93 percent and 96 percent of the deaths respectively. The numbers only get worse in older age groups, with those between age 65 and 74 being 90 times more likely to die from COVID-19 after contracting the virus than their younger counterparts. Given these facts, we urge you to stay the course you have charted for California by continuing to use age as the primary factor for determining vaccine prioritization. 

We cannot stress enough how eager Californians are to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which offers so much promise for a return to normal life. We hear from our members daily about the fear and isolation they are experiencing during this very difficult time.  The vaccine has provided hope, and our members are confident you will continue to determine California’s vaccine distribution strategy using science and data, not personal feelings or unfounded opinions.  AARP stands ready to work with you, and we support your efforts to get vaccine information to Californians as quickly as possible.


Nancy McPherson
State Director

CHHS Secretary Mark Ghaly M.D.
CA Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.
CDPH Director Tomás Aragón, M.D.

This story is provided by AARP California. Visit the AARP California page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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