Hurdles emerge as California’s vaccine eligibility expands


ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — As California expands eligibility to everyone over the age of 16, state leaders say they are in a race to get vaccines ahead of the COVID-19 variants, but some hurdles are emerging. 

California leaders are expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults Thursday.

“We are not prepared as a state, as a nation, the world more broadly that we’re trying to build around, to run the 90-yard dash. We have work to do,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.

So far more than 9.5 million Californians have been fully vaccinated and another 6.3 million have been partially vaccinated. Officials say 50% of those eligible to get vaccinated have done so already.

There have been 24 million doses that have been distributed in the state.

“We lead this nation by some 8.1 million more than any other state in this country,” Newsom said.

But Newsom said Thursday the manufactured supply is keeping the state from vaccinating at its full potential.

California will get a shipment of 1.9 million doses this week from the federal government when it had originally expected 2.5 million.

The suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains under review indefinitely and state health officials say incoming shipments will fall flat for the next few weeks.

“The expectation is, and this has been reinforced, that the manufactured supply by the end of the month will start to significantly increase both for Moderna and Pfizer,” the governor said.

State leaders acknowledge although the state’s positivity rate remains low, the variants are a concern. The governor said 20% of California’s cases in March were the UK variant, and 53% of the West Coast.

“We are in the fourth quarter, unquestionably, but this game’s not done yet,” Newsom said.

For now, California leaders are still sticking with the June 15 full reopening plan. Meanwhile, the governor says the state is also tracking the number of breakthroughs COVID-19 cases in people who have been vaccinated and plans to make that data public soon.

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