California residents over the age of 16 years can soon get their coronavirus vaccine starting in three weeks after officials announced the new eligibility requirements due to the expected increase in COVID-19 vaccine supply.
On Thursday, California State Governor Gavin Newsom announced the new vaccination eligibility requirements in the country’s most populous state. Children the age of 16 and below are the last to be included in the eligibility list due to the vaccines not yet being authorized for that age range.
Expansion of Vaccine Eligibility
In recent weeks, state officials have steadily increased the frequency of COVID-19 vaccinations. They expect to receive about 2.5 million doses per week during the first half of the month and more than three million doses a week in the latter half. The numbers show promise from the current supply of 1.8 million doses a week.
“In just a few weeks there’ll be no rules, no limitations, as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered. This state is going to come roaring back,” Newsom said during a news conference in Orange County.
California officials have recently opened up access to the coronavirus vaccine to more residents compared to other states. Alaska allowed any resident over 16 to be vaccinated earlier this month. On Thursday, Florida authorities said they will begin allowing people aged at least 18 years to get shots starting on April 5.
United States President Joe Biden’s administration plans to have all states in the country allow all adults to get vaccinated by May 1. However, state officials said it would take several months to inoculate all willing California residents despite the expansion of the eligibility and supply.
While some county officials were optimistic about the broader eligibility requirements, others were anxious about their coronavirus vaccine supply not meeting demand. The increased number of available vaccine doses caused an increase in appointments in Riverside County. This week, officials opened up 30,000 appointments, over 50% more than previous weeks’ low 20,000s.
“Any time we can vaccinate more people, that’s a good thing. We believe we’ll have the supply needed to handle any increase in eligibility,” Riverside County Health Agency Spokesperson Jose Arballo said.
Kern County officials advised residents wanting to get vaccinated to book appointments immediately. They worry about the availability of vaccine appointments after the expansion of the eligibility requirements.
Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said that while the region anticipated receiving about 58,000 doses of the vaccine by next week, the state has added about 400,000 residents to eligible individuals. The list includes people between 50 and 64, adding to the current backlog of vaccinations, the Ridgefield Press reported.
“That 58,000 doses doesn’t go very far. We have the capacity to administer over 200,000 doses. We don’t have the vaccine and we are concerned, beginning next week when we add that additional 400,000,” Fentesheib said.