California is dramatically expanding the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, offering the shots to virtually all residents beginning next month, the state announced Thursday.
Residents who are at least 50 years old can get vaccines starting April 1, and all California adults will be eligible starting April 15.
State officials said the dramatic move is based on expected increases in vaccine supply.
“The light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
“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. This is possible thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to get shots into arms.”
The two counties have now banked one week’s worth of the metrics necessary to progress into the orange tier, which would mean more businesses could open.
The number of doses flowing into the Golden State is projected to swell dramatically in the next few weeks, state officials said. Based on current estimates, California expects to be allocated about 2.5 million first and second doses per week over the first half of April — with that number growing to more than 3 million doses in the later part of the month.
By comparison, the state was expected to receive only about 1.8 million total doses this week.
California’s move to universal adult eligibility would come about two weeks before the May 1 target set by the Biden administration.
“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,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement.
“However, we are not there yet. 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.”