The state of California announced Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will be expanded to state residents who are 16 years old and older in April.
With the state expecting a supply increase, those who are at least 50 years old will be eligible to make an appointment April 1, and all individuals who are at least 16 years old will be eligible to make an appointment April 15, according to a press release from the governor’s office. While there will be an increased vaccine supply, the press release noted that vaccination of “willing Californians will take several months.”
The expansion of vaccine eligibility follows the state’s goal to lead vaccine equity and provide vaccines to “hard-to-reach communities,” according to the press release.
“With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the press release. “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.”
In the first half of April, the state expects to allocate about 2.5 million first and second vaccine doses per week, the press release states. More than 3 million additional doses will be allocated in the second half of April. However, adjustments may be made to these estimates over time.
Currently, the state receives about 1.8 million doses per week with the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week, according to the press release. The state is currently building to administer about 4 million vaccines per week by the end of April.
The state has also started various initiatives to serve the “hardest hit communities” and provide vaccines to populations with the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, according to the press release. These initiatives include funding for outreach and vaccination programs and prioritizing currently eligible populations and those who are at the highest risk, among others.
“Along with the expanded eligibility and to align with upcoming federal guidance, California will update its vaccine allocation methodology,” the press release states. “This will transition over four weeks, beginning with the March 22 allocation (delivered to providers the following week), from one based on the distribution of the 65+ population, workers in the agriculture and food, education and child care, and emergency services sectors to one based on the distribution of the 16+ population across California.”