California is expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 and over starting April 1 and anyone 16 and over on April 15.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the state expects to receive 2.5 million doses a week in the first half of April and more than 3 million a week in the second half of the month.
That’s a big jump from the roughly 1.8 million doses a week the state is currently getting.
Beginning April 1, we are expanding #COVID19 vaccine eligibility. Supply continues to increase thanks to the leadership of @POTUS.— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) March 25, 2021
With more than 15 million shots in arms, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter. pic.twitter.com/Bee0V7vGjP
The move comes as some California counties have veered away from the state’s vaccine eligibility criteria by opening up the shots for people with a broader range of medical conditions and at younger ages than the 65 and over required in most counties.
San Luis Obispo County has already opened up appointments to people 50+, but younger community members are ready to seize the opportunity.
"I'm pretty psyched and hopefully everyone follows along," San Luis Obispo resident Matthew Van Brabant said. "I was thinking summertime would be the first time most people could get it."
During a news conference at a vaccination clinic in Orange County Thursday, Newsom also said that people who take family members to vaccine appointments are able to get a shot if they live in areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
"Regardless of your age, regardless of your pre-existing condition. If someone comes in eligible under the existing rules, but with a family member, we will accommodate the family member. No questions asked. That flexibility is effective today as well."
However, San Luis Obispo County is not among these areas and is only able to administer doses by appointment only at this time.
Newsom said the state is focused on vaccine equity, working with labor groups to reach essential workers and letting health providers target vaccinations by zip code.
"It's just about being patient and knowing that [the end of the pandemic] is coming, and for everybody to have faith, to have faith and know it's going to be okay," San Luis Obispo resident Francisco Torres said. "Take a deep breath, we're going to be fine."
The state and local public health departments are preparing for a surge in demand.
"Our vaccine clinics are already able to provide approximately 1,000 doses of vaccine a day, but we have yet to reach that amount on a regular basis at all three sites due to limited vaccine supply. If vaccine supply increases as we hope, we believe that the expanded community provider capacity, as well as our vaccination clinics, will be sufficient to handle the additional demand."
Santa Barbara County is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility at its Public Health vaccination sites to residents 50 years of age and older.
Health officials say residents who fall into that category can now sign up for an appointment at the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center in Lompoc next week.
Newsom also said the state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week and is ramping up that capacity to 4 million per week by the end of April.