COVID-19: State to expand vaccine eligibility

Registered Nurse Maggie Wiercioch administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Vaccination center on Friday, 011520, 011520. Dan Watson/The Signal

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday the state is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to any Californian over the age of 16 starting April 15, with those 50 and older becoming eligible earlier, on April 1.

“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 in a prepared statement. “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 move comes as the state’s vaccine supply is expected to significantly increase in the coming weeks.

Currently, any Californian 16 and older who has underlying health conditions or disabilities is eligible, along with anyone over the age of 65, health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, as well as workers in education, food and agriculture, and emergency services.

Starting immediately, Newsom also said that for the first time, family members accompanying currently eligible people can get a vaccine too, “no questions asked.”

California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, followed by more than 3 million doses in the second half of April, though the state expects it will still take several months for all willing Californians to be vaccinated, according to Newsom.

More than 15 million Californians have been vaccinated thus far, with more than 3.2 milion of those being L.A. County residents, according to Public Health officials.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis released a statement following the governor’s announcement, confirming that the county would adhere with the state’s guidelines.

“This is momentous news and after a year that has devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of residents across Los Angeles County, could not come soon enough,” Solis said in the statement. “As supplies increase and vaccination opportunities become more widely available in the weeks to come, we can make real progress in beating back this virus and ushering in a new normal. When the time comes, it is my fervent hope that all residents of our county who are able will sign up for this opportunity. And on my part, I will continue to work to ensure that when the time comes everyone, regardless of insurance status, documentation or where they live, will have access to these lifesaving vaccines.”

L.A. County Department of Public Health officials noted that they hope the expansion of eligibility carries with it increased doses of vaccine coming into L.A. County, as county vaccination sites continue to operate below their capacity and have the ability to vaccinate around twice the number of residents each week than its current allocation allows.

Before vaccine eligibility expands, Newsom said the state will continue to prioritize vaccinating the hardest-hit communities.

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Thursday:

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 608

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,216,250

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 66

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 23,020

Hospitalizations countywide: 729; 23% of whom are in the ICU.

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of March 19: 8, with 1,176 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 25, 19 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 27,015

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of March 24: 287

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of March 8: 24.8%

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of March 8: 23.3%

The numbers of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, are as follows:

City of Santa Clarita: 19,823

Unincorporated – Acton: 459

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 266

Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 47

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 819

Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,664 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)

Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 41

Unincorporated – Newhall: 69

Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 1

Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 15

Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 17

Unincorporated – Saugus: 131

Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 39

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 1,112

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 327

Unincorporated – Valencia: 185

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