California has updated health guidelines that had allowed some fitness professionals to be among the state’s first residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
In what ABC7 News called a “loophole,” some fitness instructors qualified as healthcare workers and were able to be part of California’s Tier 1-A group that was able to receive the vaccine soon after its rollout in early January.
ABC7 News reported that “outdoor recreational facilities – facilitating – outdoor exercise” were part of the healthcare workers classification.
"My initial reaction was, healthcare workers? Really?" Kimi Hori, a fitness instructor in Santa Clara County, told ABC7. "The vaccine should be going to those who really need it... not fit 25-year-olds."
Conversely, ABC7 reported that businesses like the Bay Club Company, which has 23 California locations, encouraged their employees to get vaccinated.
"When the State of California implemented the Vaccine Tiers for priority in January 2021, we were pleased to see outdoor recreation was included in Health Care (Health Care/Public Health sector index 1, line item 22). As such, we shared that information with our employees so they could begin the process of receiving vaccinations," Bay Club Company senior executive vice president Annie Appel said in a statement.
The process has been shut down for now, as The Associated Press reported that instructors at outdoor recreational facilities are no longer included among Tier 1-A.
"To our disappointment, on Friday, February 5, 2021, we were notified that the State had made changes to the specifics in the Health Care Sector and no longer allowed outdoor recreation be included in Tier 1-A. We have also shared this information with our employees and are awaiting further direction from the state for which tier we will be included in," Appel said.
The AP reported that the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office has said that anyone attempting to 'jump the line' and get vaccinated early is under penalty of perjury. Perjury in California is punishable by up to four years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.