The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is kept refrigerated until it is needed and then diluted for injection. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette/TNS)

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is kept refrigerated until it is needed and then diluted for injection. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette/TNS)

California to expand vaccine eligibility to those ages 16 and over by mid-April

California will expand the list of those eligible to receive the vaccine against COVID-19 to those ages 50 and over on April 1 and then to all those aged 16 and over beginning April 15.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the eligibility expansion is possible due to an increase in supply.

“In just a few weeks, there will be no rules, no limitations as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered,” Newsom said. “This comes with the expectation of more manufactured supply.”

Newsom said he has yet to be vaccinated but intends to with the eligibility expansion. “I will be eligible after next Thursday and I look forward to getting the best shot — and the best vaccine is the next one available, whatever that vaccine is,” he said.

There are currently three vaccines approved for emergency use. Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses spaced weeks apart, and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson.

It will still take several months for everyone in the state to be vaccinated, officials said.

The announcement comes on the same day President Joe Biden said in a press conference he was doubling his initial goal to have 100 million people vaccinated within his first 100 days in office. He is in his 65th day in office and that goal was met last week on his 58th day in office.

He is now vowing to have administered 200 million shots in 100 days. “I know it’s ambitious, twice our original goal,” Biden said. “But no other country in the world has even come close, not even close, to what we’re doing. And I believe we can do it.”

The nation is currently administering an average of about 2.3 million doses daily.

California is currently receiving about 1.8 million doses per week. But the supply is expected to jump to 2.5 million doses per week in the first half of April and then to 3 million doses in the second half of April.

The state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week and plans to increase the capacity to administer up to 4 million weekly by the end of April.

“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary said in a statement. “However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians.”

The state has administered nearly 16 million vaccine doses. In San Francisco, 41 percent of the population aged 16 and over, or 313,433 residents, have received at least one dose.

Newsom, who faces a possible recall, expressed optimisim about the future of California’s economy as cases remain low, vaccines increase and more counties move into the state’s less restrictive COVID-19 tiers.

“We are going to come roaring back,” Newsom said. “Mark my words, this state is going to come roaring back.”

San Francisco moved into the orange tier earlier this week, allowing The City to, among other things, reopen downtown offices at 25 percent capacity. In celebrating the new tier status Tuesday, Mayor London Breed said, “I want to see the city jumping again.”

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