Newsom announces plans to further expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

March 25, 2021

Anticipating a new influx of vaccine supply, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday March 25, 2021, the state would soon be loosening eligibility requirements to get residents vaccinated as quickly as possible. The eligibility expansion will come in two phases: On April 1, 2021, all Californians aged 50 and older will become eligible; and on April 15, 2021, the state will expand eligibility to all Californians aged 16 and older.

On Thursday, President Biden also announced that his administration had doubled its original vaccine goals, and is now hoping 200 million doses of COVID vaccines will be administered by May 1 as we race against the emergence of new variants and try to achieve herd immunity.

Guidance offered by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday also encouraged providers – in particular those serving patients in lower-income areas – to use broad discretion in deciding who to vaccinate. In the new guidance, CDPH noted that health care providers have the discretion to vaccinate those who live in high impact areas, including families of those who are currently eligible.

CDPH has divided the state into four quartiles based on the Healthy Places Index (HPI). The HPI uses a number of data sets including economic, education, transportation, housing and health care access to assess community conditions.

Communities in the lower half of the state’s HPI scores have been a target of the state’s vaccine distribution policy as the state works to ensure equitable allocation and distribution of COVID vaccines.

The California Medical Association will continue to advocate for physicians to have broad discretion in how to care for their patients. Physicians are essential to getting shots into arms, addressing vaccine hesitancy or concerns from patients, and helping our state bring this pandemic to an end.


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