SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — California is vaccinating its most vulnerable age group, people who are 65 and up, for whom the coronavirus is more likely to be deadly.

But a recent study suggests it may help to focus vaccinations on a different demographic to better prevent rapid virus transmission.

People ages 20-49 are most responsible for the mid-2020 COVID-19 surge, according to a study published Tuesday in Science Magazine.

Breaking up the ages, the study says 35-49 year-old adults were largely super-spreaders across the country overall, while 20-34 year olds were spreading COVID-19 at higher rates in Southern, South-western, and Western regions of the U.S.

Thus, the researchers believe focusing mass vaccination efforts for the 20-49 age group will help control COVID-19 infections.

At this time, California plans to specifically vaccinate people who are 16-49 years old in its final phase of vaccinations, but only those with underlying health conditions or disabilities that make them more at risk will be eligible.

The state is currently allowing people who work in specific fields to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which may already cover many in that age bracket, however.

Californians eligible for vaccines now include:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Education and childcare workers
  • Emergency services workers
  • Food and agriculture workers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital workers in the U.S. are primarily composed of people ages 25-54 based on data from 2020.

Healthcare workers were the first in line to get the initial COVID-19 doses starting in December 2020 across the U.S.

American elementary and secondary school teachers are also mostly in the 25-54 age bracket.

The study found that in October 2020, just 2.7% of infections came from children ages 0-9, and 7.1% from teens ages 10-19. Meanwhile, the 20-34 age group contributed to 34% of infections and the 35-49 group contributed to 38.2% of infections.

The study maintains that controlling the spread in the 20s to middle-aged demographic would also help with safely reopening schools.