Advocacy Alert: Persons with SUD Declared Eligible for Early Vaccination in California

March 11, 2021


CCAPP is pleased to announce that advocacy to ensure that clients receive priority vaccination has been cleared by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Health Care Services.

Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health for the California Department of Health Care Services announced on March 9, 2021, that “Due to the high risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality for people with serious mental illness or substance use disorders, the state is releasing guidance today indicating that people with disability due to SMI and/or SUD are prioritized for vaccines as of March 15, 2021.”

Clients receiving SUD services as well as people in recovery who are participants of recovery residence living should sign up for vaccination as soon as possible after March 15.

In the event that local health officials or private insurance carrier are unaware of this classification, please refer to this documentation to support appointments for clients.

Both state departments have agreed that persons with SUDs are covered by this clause:

If as a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability one or more of the following applies:

  • The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability

Please access vaccinations by contacting local county health departments to determine locations and scheduling. Clients may also access vaccinations through private insurance where vaccinations are available.

Questions? Concerns?

As always, we want your input.

A reminder that BHAP members get regular access to our advocate in Washington, DC. If you have any questions about BHAP’s advocacy efforts, please contact us.


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