California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that residents 65 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He aims to administer an additional 1 million doses by the end of the week, a California Dept. of Public Health statement said.
As of Wednesday, California had administered about 890,000 of their 3.43 million doses of the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The state has set up mass-immunization sites in sports stadiums and fairgrounds to expedite distribution. Additionally, 36,000 dentists were added to the pool of personnel allowed to administer the vaccines, the news release said.
“We are significantly increasing our efforts to get these vaccines administered, get them out of freezers and get them into people’s arms,” Newsom said in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday. “One of the most significant things we can do is increase the number of people eligible to … receive the vaccine and that’s what we’re doing today, announcing everybody 65 and over — about 6.6 million Californians — we are now pulling into the tier to make available vaccines.”
About 90% of Californians are still under Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order, which went into effect early last December. The state recorded just under 300,000 new COVID-19 cases and 3,510 deaths in the last week. However, these numbers seem to have leveled out in recent days.
Health care workers and long-term care residents are still the highest priority for receiving the vaccine, the statement said, but the demand for the vaccine is outweighing the supply.
“With our hospitals crowded and ICUs full, we need to focus on vaccinating Californians who are at highest risk of becoming hospitalized to alleviate stress on our health care facilities,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer. “Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives.”