California outlines penalties for providers giving COVID-19 vaccines out of order

The Medical Board of California has released guidance for licensed physicians on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, noting that they are subject to discipline if they don't comply with the phase structure in federal and state guidelines.  

Medical Board of California licensees must adhere to the current federal and state prioritization standards for allocating and administering COVID-19 vaccines in phases, found here

If licensed providers stray from the phases in their administration of vaccines, they face disciplinary actions, up to and including the revocation of their license and disenrollment from the COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

The guidance follows remarks from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who on Dec. 28 warned of penalties that healthcare providers would face if they violate vaccine priority guidelines. Mr. Newsom said enforcement is needed at the state, county, local and clinic levels to ensure "someone's not passing a few vials over to their cousin or aunt or uncle, or God forbid, making a buck or two on the backs of a vaccine that should be distributed to someone who is at high risk or at higher need."

The governor said his administration has "worked aggressively behind the scenes" with the California Medical Association and other partners to develop the state's vaccine distribution enforcement plan. 

Healthcare personnel at risk of exposure to COVID-19 are in phase 1a of vaccine distribution, as are residents of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. 

Phase 1b has two tiers. In tier 1 are people 75 and older, workers in education, emergency services workers, and food and agriculture workers. In tier 2 are people 65 or older with an underlying health condition or disability and workers in transportation, logistics, industrial, commercial, residential and critical manufacturing sectors. People who are incarcerated or homeless are also listed in the second tier of phase 1b.

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