COVID vaccination age eligibility still at 55, but may be lowered soon

DPHSS vaccination clinic. The eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has been expanded to adults age 50 and older effective Monday, March 15. (PNC file photo)

Dr. Felix Cabrera, Guam Public Health’s chief medical officer, said the age to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is still 55 years old.

But that could be changing soon.

Dr. Cabrera told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that for every five years that Public Health lowers the age of eligibility, which increases the number of eligible people by about 10,000.

He said that expanding eligibility is highly dependent on the island’s vaccine supply.

Guam recently experienced a shortage of vaccines.

But Cabrera said that as Guam’s allotment for March starts to arrive, Public Health can once again look at expanding eligibility.

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“Now that we have a better sense of our allotment, we can actually start giving out these specific dates that we might be able to start dropping the age in actually a much quicker fashion. Because we haven’t moved the age in a month, basically. It was February 1st or so when we moved down to 55 and we haven’t done any since because of our concern about our allotment. But we’re in a much better position now, and so that news will come out soon,” Cabrera said.

He added that 14,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived last night. More than 21,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to arrive soon.

And Guam is expecting an initial shipment of about 1,300 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Although the date for that shipment hasn’t been confirmed, Cabrera said that Guam could get up to 8,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine by the end of the month.

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“We are in really good shape here. March is going to be a tremendous month of vaccinations. And we really encourage everyone to get out and get your vaccines. Especially those who are due for their second dose. The boost that you get from that second dose is just tremendous. And the last point I’ll just make is that once the Johnson and Johnson vaccines get here…again it’s a single dose..and there are talks about different efficacies among the three different vaccines..but the one thing that all three have in common is that they are virtually 100% effective in preventing persons who get the vaccine from ending up in the hospital or dying from COVID,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said that private clinics will be getting their own allotments of vaccines separate from Public Health.