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Townhall recap: State, local health leaders answer vaccine rollout questions

Inside California Politics

(KTXL) – In Inside California Politics’ townhall special, state and local health leaders weighed in on how California is moving forward with vaccinations. 

When can Californians stop wearing masks? When will everyone have access to shots? Will vaccines be mandatory? 

“We’re going to rely on the science,” said California’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. 

Burke Harris couldn’t say exactly when Californians could go without a mask but said access to vaccines for everyone is expected in the coming months. 

“I hate to put a certain day because I don’t want people to hang their hopes on it, but we believe later this spring we’ll have significantly increased supply in vaccine,” Burke Harris said. 

She says the state’s new vaccine distribution strategy, reserving 40% of its supply for the most vulnerable communities, is going to be key. 

“It’s the fastest way to end this pandemic because those communities with the highest burden are also seeing the highest spread,” Burke Harris said. 

But as some frontline eligible workers opt out of getting the shot, health experts say the vaccine is ultimately safer than getting COVID-19. 

“COVID is a very serious disease and even people who are moderately to asymptomatically impacted can have long term, long haul effects. So, the vaccine is infinitely better,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health. 

Teachers are now among those eligible in California’s push to reopen schools. 

State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, who authored laws strengthening California’s vaccine rules for children, was asked if the vaccine should eventually be mandatory for children. 

“This is not the time to talk about mandating COVID vaccines for children … Actually aren’t approved for children yet, and we still have a shortage in terms of those who actually want the vaccine, so let’s focus on that first,” Pan said. 

The panel of health experts said some vaccine trials are underway and doses could be available to teenagers as early as fall. 

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