While California’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains strained for now, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he believes the state could make the shots available to everyone by early May.
“We’re anticipating within 5½ weeks where we can eliminate all of the tiering, so to speak, and make available vaccines to everybody across the spectrum because supply will exponentially increase,” Newsom said during a briefing in the Bay Area.
The governor didn’t elaborate on the timeline, but it dovetails with previous federal guidance as to the expected availability of, and access to, the vaccine.
President Biden said last week that restrictions on who could make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment would be lifted nationwide by May 1, as supply is expected to be sufficient to meet demand.
The promise of stepped-up supplies is music to the ears of public health officials in California and across the country — as providers are racing to put as many doses in arms as quickly as possible, and thwart any potential new coronavirus wave.
Even now, California is already starting to see notable progress in its vaccine rollout.
The last six days have seen the six highest single-day totals in terms of shots given out statewide, according to data compiled by The Times. During just that stretch, roughly 2.35 million doses were administered in California — including 344,489 on Thursday and 387,015 on Friday.
To date, 23.5% of Californians have received at least one vaccine dose — a proportion that ranks 33rd out of all states and U.S. territories, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By comparison, 31.4% of New Mexico’s population has gotten at least one shot, as have 29.6% of Alaskans and 29% of those living in South Dakota.
California measures up better compared with some more populous states. As of Friday, 24.3% of residents had received one shot in Pennsylvania, 24.2% in New York, 22.2% in Florida and 20.9% in Texas, CDC data show.
“We don’t have enough vaccines. I could double the capacity today if you got me those vaccines,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday during an interview with Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
L.A. County officials have expressed optimism that vaccine supplies will grow in the weeks ahead, particularly as shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which have been interrupted by production issues, begin to arrive regularly.
“We expect to receive much larger quantities of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine beginning at the end of this month,” Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said Friday.
The county anticipates receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of 280,000 doses next week — with only about 6,000 of those being Johnson & Johnson, he added during a briefing.
Nearly half of all Californians — including adults 65 and older, healthcare workers, educators, people who are incarcerated or living in homeless shelters, essential workers such as those in the food industry or emergency services, public transit workers and janitors, and residents 16 and older who have disabilities or underlying health conditions — are already eligible for the vaccine.The list is not exhaustive, though, as the state continues to offer specifications for who qualifies under the various categories.