SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County health officials announced Wednesday they will begin expanding vaccine eligibility to more essential workers beginning Feb. 28.
The categories will include workers in education and childcare, food and agriculture as well as emergency services.
"This expansion of eligibility will help ensure many of our essential workers, particularly those that are living in areas hardest hit, will have access to the vaccine," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
The expansion falls under the state's Phase 1b, Tier 1 eligibility.
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For education and childcare, the state includes all formal and informal childcare workers, including daycare providers, staff in colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges, and other post-secondary education facilities, staff in educational support services and administration, staff in Pre-kindergarten through high schools, staff in technical and trade schools and any other workers involved in child and/or student care, including school bus drivers and monitors and crosswalk guards.
4th-grade teacher Allison Medlin said she cried when she heard the news.
"I'm thrilled. Just ready to get safely back to the classroom," she said.
The food and agriculture category includes employees at grocery stores and any other retail that sells food or beverage, food delivery drivers, cafeteria workers, food manufacturing employees, farmworkers, agricultural transport workers and others involved in the production and transport of materials necessary in agriculture.
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Emergency services includes law enforcement, fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, corrections, rehabilitation and reentry, search and rescue, hazardous material response, and technicians supporting maritime and aviation emergency response.
Santa Clara Director of Public Health, Rocia Luna, said they will be expanding hours at some of the vaccination sites to include evening and weekend time slots to account for those who work during the week.
They are also conducting door-to-door outreach to assist people who have not yet signed up if they are eligible.
"We are working closely with a large network of trusted community partners to ensure that our most impacted communities have access to vaccinations," said Rocio Luna, Deputy Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara.
Dr. Cody said the county has vaccinated 50% of residents over 75 with at least one dose. She said they are also close to 50% of those 65 and older as well.
For more information on eligibility and sign ups, visit the Santa Clara County vaccine website.
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