State expands vaccine eligibility
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on March 25 that all Californians 50 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 1, while everyone 16 and older will qualify two weeks later, on April 15.
The governor also said that effective April 1, the state will loosen requirements in lower-income communities for doctors and other health care providers to use their discretion to vaccinate anyone they think should get one, regardless of age or medical condition.
The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.
That is a substantial increase from the 1.8 million doses the state receives per week. Health officials have long said supply was the biggest constraint, and that the state has capacity to administer about 3 million vaccines per week and should be able to administer up to 4 million by the end of April.
The expansion means that the state is about to open up to vaccinating all adults. It comes before May 1, when President Joe Biden had anticipated the move nationwide.
Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, it will take several months to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine, health officials warn.
It also is likely to spur a rush for appointments, leaving many people frustrated that they are unable to line up vaccinations.
Health officials in Santa Clara County said that while they'll expand vaccinations to people 50 and older starting April 1, and to everyone April 15, there are still far too few doses available.
Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health, said in a statement last week that the county's focus "will remain equity, speed and scale in our local approach."
"If the opening of eligibility aligns with much more supply to the County, we would expect to continue to mobilize locally targeted clinics in our most vulnerable communities, as well as offering mass vaccination at high-throughput sites such as the SMC Event Center and the SFO Long Term Parking garage," she said. "Our work during the last several weeks to mobilize both targeted and large-scale vaccine efforts positions us well to scale up and achieve even greater reach more quickly — if there is more supply of the vaccine."
Sutter Health, one of California's largest health systems, can vaccinate more than 25,000 patients daily but also has too few doses to meet demand, said spokeswoman Angeline Sheets.
Previously, Californians 65 and over and people with certain serious health conditions were eligible, along with health care workers, educators, food industry workers and a few other types of essential workers.
The state has largely followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine prioritization. Still, the state has received some pushback on its vaccination game plan — most recently, people with some underlying medical conditions questioned why their conditions were left out. People with Type 2 diabetes, for example, are eligible now, but not those with Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed early in life and is related to an autoimmune reaction.
The state's expansion means Newsom himself will be eligible for a vaccine on April 1. He said he would take whichever vaccine is available for him, acknowledging concerns that some vaccines are better than others.
Comprehensive COVID-19 coverage
View interactive charts tracking the spread of the coronavirus in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties online at paloaltoonline.atavist.com/tracking-the-coronavirus. Find a comprehensive collection of coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by The Almanac and its sister publications, Palo Alto Online, and the Mountain View Voice, at tinyurl.com/c19-Almanac.
CalMatters and Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
This story contains 656 words.
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