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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that the state will, on April 1, extend Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone aged 50 and older, then to everyone aged 16 and older on April 15. Those plans jive with the hints Newsom has given about basing the state’s vaccination plan going forward on age. They also agree with the CDC’s recommendation for a Phase 2 vaccination pool including everyone over the age of 16.
The plan is an escalation of the governor’s pronouncement last week that the state would open vaccinations to all by the end of April. “We’re anticipating within five-and-a-half weeks where we can eliminate all of the tiering,” said Newsom last Friday, “and make available vaccines to everybody across the spectrum because supply will exponentially increase.”
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The timetable puts California weeks ahead of President Joe Biden’s announcement that he will push for all American adults to be eligible for a vaccine by May 1. Of course, having the nation’s most populous state in that category would go a long way toward helping Biden make good on that pledge.
The state has been receiving roughly 1.8 million doses a week, but the state anticipates receiving 2.5 million weekly doses by early April, then more than 3 million per week by the end of that month.
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has been slowly expanding in the state in recent weeks. Most recently, eligibility was extended to people aged 16 and over with serious underlying health conditions that put them at risk of severe illness or death from COVID. An array of essential workers are already eligible for vaccines, such as teachers and food workers. Health care workers were the first to be given access to the vaccine, and everyone in the state aged 65 and over is already eligible.
Thursday’s announcement means everyone in the state aged 16 and up will be eligible for the shots in mid-April. However, given the state’s vast population, it will still take months to provide the vaccines to everyone who wants one.
Newsom said the state will have the capacity to administer 4 million shots per week by the end of April.
Shortly after he made the announcement at a news conference, Newsom issued the following statement on the news:
With supply of vaccines expected to significantly increase in the coming weeks, the state is expanding vaccine eligibility to more Californians. Starting April 1, individuals aged 50+ will be eligible to make an appointment, and individuals 16+ will be eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated starting on April 15.
“With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” said Governor Newsom. “We remain focused on equity as we extend vaccine eligibility to those older than 50 starting April 1, and those older than 16 starting April 15. This is possible thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to get shots into arms.”
Based on the current estimates, California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April. California currently receives about 1.8 million doses per week. These estimates may be adjusted as time goes on. The state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week, and is building the capacity to administer 4 million vaccines weekly by the end of April.
“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down. It is important that we remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance.”
City News Service contributed to this report.