A health care worker draws a dose of coronavirus vaccine. (Photo via Phil Roeder/Flickr)

Monterey County will expand coronavirus eligibility next week to some residents ages 65 to 74 depending on their occupation and where they live, the county health officer said Tuesday.

Residents between those ages who work in food and agriculture, childcare and education, and emergency services will have access to the vaccine beginning Feb. 17, Dr. Edward Moreno told the county’s Board of Supervisors.

In addition, residents ages 65 to 74 who live in the 95012, 95039, 95076, 93933, 93955, 93901, 93905, 93906, 93926, 93927, 93930 and 93960 ZIP codes will also have access to the vaccine beginning Feb. 17.

Those ZIP codes have been disproportionately hit harder by the pandemic than the county at large, according to Moreno.

“We believe this strategy addresses the county residents that are most likely to die from COVID-19 while beginning to protect additional essential workers and considers equity by offering vaccines to individuals and communities historically burdened with poorer health and poorer social outcomes,” Moreno said.

The county has been vaccinating all residents age 75 and older since last month and is now able to expand that eligibility as supply of vaccine doses has increased.

Previously, the county’s weekly vaccine allotment put it on pace to take 23 months to administer at least one dose to everyone in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine rollout, which includes all residents 65 and older, education and childcare workers, food and agriculture workers and emergency services personnel.

With the boost in vaccine supply, that timeline is now down to 16 months, Moreno said, and will keep decreasing as supplies increase.

“The supply isn’t sufficient to meet the demand here in Monterey County and other counties,” Moreno said. “But we are encouraged by the fact that our first dose per week supply is slightly increasing.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve an emergency use authorization for a third coronavirus vaccine, the latest developed by Johnson and Johnson, that would only require one dose rather than the two required for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

That additional vaccine supply along with only requiring one dose to take effect is likely to accelerate the county’s rollout, according to Moreno.

Eligible Monterey County residents can find more information on signing up for a coronavirus vaccination appointment at https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-a-h/health/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/vaccination-registration.

“I do ask that the community remain patient and kind as you attempt to get appointments,” Board Chair Wendy Root Askew said. “We continue to have demand that far, far, far exceeds our supply and the county board will continue to do everything in our power to secure additional vaccines.”