News23ABC In-Depth


Vaccinations under the "Honor System" as residents don't need to provide proof of medical conditions

Trust in the hands of residents
Posted: 5:23 PM, Mar 24, 2021
Updated: 2021-03-30 19:15:39-04
COVID-19 Vaccinations

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Ongoing efforts continue as the state looks to vaccinate all Californians against COVID-19. So far, state health officials say they have rolled out roughly 15 million vaccines.

Most of those vaccinations were administered in Los Angeles County which was one of the hardest-hit parts in the state. And Tuesday 23ABC learned that roughly 230,000 people in Kern County have been vaccinated. The state department of public health says roughly 300,000 people are getting vaccinations daily despite claims of supply issues.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

On top of this state leadership is still asking for counties to follow strict, vaccination rollout criteria.

For the past week, Californians between the ages of 16 and 64 have been eligible for the vaccine. if they have certain health conditions or disabilities. But there are some questions if people are sticking to the honor system when it comes to those doses.

Californians eligible under Phase 1-c must indicate on the state's My Turn website that they do in fact have a severe health condition or disability. But they don't have to provide documentation to prove that. Counties across the state are putting their trust in the hands of residents in the latest group eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

That applies to those ages 16 to 64 who can now make appointments to get vaccinated if they meet the requirements according to Kern County Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson.

"We're not asking for any other documentation to show that you indeed have this medical condition," she said. "It really is an honor system. They are doing the attestation by making that appointment on My turn and they are clicking those boxes that they do indeed have that condition."

These conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, and chronic pulmonary disease.

But again, no actual proof of those conditions is needed which can open the door up to people cutting in line according to attorney Jay Rosenlieb with the Klein Denatala Goldner law firm.

"They're taking the vaccination away from someone who would otherwise be well served by taking the vaccine."

But on the other hand, Rosenlieb points out that the honor system method may be the most efficient.

"Delay is an issue. The idea is to get as many people as vaccinated as quickly as possible, but also to get as many people in high-risk groups vaccinated even faster."

A California Health Department statement Wednesday reads in part "documentation is not needed. This is not because of HIPAA. It’s to minimize the barriers for individuals who do not have access to standard medical care and would have challenges in accessing documentation, for example, our undocumented residents."

"We expect our community to do the right thing and be honest to ensure that the people with the medical conditions are indeed getting these vaccines," added Corson.

As the California Public Health Department said they are just trying to take down barriers of entry for vulnerable groups like farmworkers. In Kern County, there are about 150,000 farmworkers and about half of them are undocumented according to UFW.

Vaccinating Farmworkers

23ABC In-Depth

Vaccinating vulnerable communities in Kern County

Bayan Wang, 23ABC
4:58 PM, Mar 22, 2021

As for any consequences for people who are caught lying about a health condition to get the vaccine that remains a question. The public health department says they don't know about any penalties and haven't heard anything about that from the state.

23ABC reached out to the state but they haven't responded.

CSUB Vaccination Hub

Meanwhile, California State University Bakersfield is working with Kaiser Permanente to bring more vaccines to Kern County as a new vaccination hub has opened up at the campus Wednesday.

"Inside the vaccination hub, we've got 36 vaccine stations and 14 registration stations. When you do the math, we can push through hundreds of people per hour and do 5,400 vaccinations a day-- that's nearly 38,000 a week," explained Senior Vice-President at Kaiser Permanente Kern County David Womack.

It's not clear if you need to make an appointment to get vaccinated at the hub.

Elsewhere, health officials across the nation are continuing to monitor COVID-19 trends as more vaccines are given. This comes as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky talked about a slight increase in COVID-19 cases, nationwide.

"Cases continued to increase slightly. The most recent seven-day average is nearly 55,000 per day which is up about 3% from the prior seven-day average. The most recent seven-day average of new hospitalizations is about 4,600 per day and is similar to the data on Monday. And the latest seven-day average of deaths, approximately 968 per day has also remained flat this week."

Despite covid-19 related deaths slowing some health officials are concerned because new infections are still on the rise. In part, this is due to the spread of COVID-19 variants across the nation.

And in Kern County, COVID-19 related deaths and cases both took a jump Wednesday. Public health reported 20 more people have lost their lives to coronavirus. That now means we've lost more than 1,100 people to COVID-19.

New coronavirus infections also took a jump. Public health says there were 185 new cases of the virus. This now marks close to 106,000 cases for Kern County.