Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday the state will extend COVID-19 vaccine eligibility on April 1 to everyone aged 50 and older, then to everyone aged 16 and older on April 15.
Newsom said he is opening up availability because of a dramatic increase in vaccine supply.
The state has been receiving roughly 1.8 million doses a week, but anticipates receiving 2.5 million weekly doses by early April, then more than 3 million per week by the end of that month.
“With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” Newsom said.
Newsom said the state will have the capacity to administer 4 million shots per week by the end of April. San Diego public health officials say they have the capacity to administer 35,000 shots a day.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services director, said the announcement means “we are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us.”
“However, we are not there yet,” he said. “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.”
Even with expanded vaccine supplies, Newsom’s office said it is expected to take several months for willing Californians to be vaccinated.
The state’s expansion means Newsom himself will be eligible for a vaccine next Thursday. He said he would take whichever vaccine is available for him, acknowledging concerns that some vaccines are better than others.
City News Service and CalMatters contributed to this article.