California will expand vaccine eligibility for people ages 50 and older beginning April 1, with all individuals 16 and older becoming eligible April 15.
In "just a few weeks, there will be no rules, no limitations as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press briefing Thursday. "April 1, everyone 50 and over, April 15, everybody 16 and over."
He added that effective immediately, clinics could offer shots to family members who take eligible relatives to be vaccinated, with "no questions asked" about their own eligibility.
"If someone comes in eligible under the existing rules, but with a family member, we will accommodate the family member," Newsom said.
Still, even with increased supply, “vaccination of willing Californians will take several months,” the state said in a press release.
The state expects to receive about 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, increasing to over 3 million in the second half. That's up from about 1.8 million per week currently.
California hopes to have the capacity to administer 4 million vaccines each week by the end of April.
“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead," said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a statement. "However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down. It is important that we remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance."
In the Bay Area, Contra Costa and Solano counties have already moved to letting people 50 and over make vaccine appointments.
You can watch the governor's news conference here. "I hope this is coming as positive news for those that have been waiting their turn," said Newsom Thursday, ending his prepared remarks. "And by the way, that includes myself. I will be eligible after next Thursday. And I look forward to getting the best shot. And the best vaccine is the next one available, whatever that vaccine is."
Also on Thursday, President Biden opened his first formal news conference by doubling his original goal on COVID-19 vaccines by pledging that the nation will administer 200 million doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. The administration had met Biden’s initial goal of 100 million doses earlier this month — before even his 60th day in office.
While seemingly ambitious, Biden’s vaccine goal amounts to a continuation of the existing pace of vaccinations through the end of next month. The U.S. is now averaging about 2.5 million doses per day and an even greater rate is possible. Over the next month, two of the bottlenecks to getting Americans vaccinated are set to ease as the U.S. supply of vaccines is on track to increase and states lift eligibility requirements to get shots.