SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — California health officials announced Friday that it will soon expand the list of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by another 4 to 6 million people, including residents aged 16-64 with higher risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday that starting March 15 severely disabled people and those with health conditions that put them at high risk can get in line for shots. Among those included are people with certain cancer, heart, lung and kidney conditions, as well as pregnant women, those with Down syndrome, organ transplant recipients and the severely obese.READ MORE: Lake County Luxury Hotel, Housing Project Raises Concerns Over Wildfire Risk
- ALSO READ: Bay Area COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Page
California has been plagued by vaccine shortages and Ghaly acknowledged he’s not sure how long it will take for the federal supply of shots to meet demand.
The state’s decision to rely largely on age for vaccine eligibility was criticized by those who said it failed to protect people under 65 and at high risk of infection and death from COVID-19.
Ghaly said there are roughly 13 million people already eligible for vaccination, including health care workers. The new additions will push the total to nearly half the state’s population of just under 40 million.
Governor Gavin Newsom also made reference to the expanded eligibility when he provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 response Friday from outside a mass vaccination center set up at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
“Later this afternoon we will also be advancing our efforts to be more inclusive to those with disabilities,” said Newsom. “And I want the disability community to know we heard you and we’re going to do more and better to provide access even with the scarce access to vaccines and so we recognize those with other physical or intellectual disabilities are uniquely vulnerable.”
California has opened many mass vaccination centers in the last several weeks but they aren’t operating close to full capacity because of vaccine shortages. The city of Los Angeles temporarily closed vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium and four other locations until supplies could be replenished.
“What this site proves is that the only limitation in our capacity to do more is supply,” Newsom explained.
And more supply is coming. Just as Newsom was touring Moscone, the media was getting a first look at the Oakland Coliseum site, now under construction.READ MORE: Theft Leaves San Jose Couple Bereft: 'We’re Heartbroken, All Our Precious Things Are Gone'
That operation is being run entirely by Cal OES and FEMA. It will be walk-in appointments on one side of the parking lot, with drive through appointments on the other side. The first day will be Tuesday, Feb. 16. The goal is to administer 6,000 shots a day at the site.
Another new addition to the vaccine effort Friday was at CVS pharmacies.
“Online yesterday,” Roger Pagan said when asked how he booked his appointment.
Pagan got his first COVID shot at a CVS in Fremont. He was lucky. The nearest available appointment in Northern California listed on the CVS website is currently in Mount Shasta. Supply is still tight.
But the state’s decision to ease up on the eligibility restrictions on March 15 is another signal that the supply is going to grow, even if slowly over the next couple of weeks.
“1,080,000 doses received this week,” Newsom said. “Next week, we anticipate a modest increase, 1.2 million doses.”
Two shots are required for each person to be fully vaccinated. California has administered 5.5 million doses to date, and more than 1 million people have gotten both.
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.MORE NEWS: Indoor Restaurant Dining Resumes, Movie Theaters Reopen in SF and Santa Clara Counties
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