All Californians 65 and older are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Wednesday press release. "Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state."
Officials with the California Department of Public Health said the move was made to increase the distribution of the vaccine "to those at greatest risk" as the demand among frontline healthcare workers subsides.
Healthcare workers and long-term care residents, eligible to receive the vaccine in the state’s Phase 1A plan, are still able to get it.
"With our hospitals crowded and ICUs full, we need to focus on vaccinating Californians who are at highest risk of becoming hospitalized to alleviate stress on our health care facilities," said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer. "Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives."
While California is lagging behind most of the nation in distributing its available supply of vaccine doses, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced updated guidance to speed up distribution to the elderly.
Wednesday’s announcement also included news that the state would be rolling out an opt-in email and text notification system to let Californians know when it was their turn to get the vaccine. The system is expected to launch next week, along with a second version of the platform that will assist counties and cities administer mass vaccination events.
The governor has said he aims to see another one million vaccines administered by week’s end.