SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- California is expanding the list of people who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, opening it up to everyone 16 and older starting April 15, it was announced Thursday.
Speaking at a vaccination site in Orange County, Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced that everyone 50 and over will be able to make an appointment to receive a shot starting April 1 based on an expected increase in vaccine supply, which up until now has been limited.
"In just a few weeks, there'll be no rules, no limitations, as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered," Newsom said. "This state is going to come roaring back."
The governor also said that for the first time, family members accompanying currently eligible people can get a vaccine too, "no questions asked." A press release later clarified that this was up to providers' discretion, and only applies to families living in high-impact areas.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's health and human services secretary, also made it clear that applies to the undocumented community.
"If things like this come up in the future, it is directly against what we are standing for today, which is low-barrier, no-barrier vaccination opportunities for all Californians," he said.
Based on current estimates, California expects to receive about 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April and more than 3 million doses in the second half of the month. That's a big jump from the roughly 1.8 million doses a week the state is currently getting.
The move comes as some California counties have veered away from the state's vaccine eligibility criteria by opening up the shots for people with a broader range of medical conditions and at younger ages than 65 and over or those with specific conditions required in most places.
Newsom said the state will continue to target underserved communities by working with labor groups to reach essential workers and letting health providers target vaccinations by zip code.
California has administered more than 15 million coronavirus vaccines. Initially, more affluent residents who could afford to spend hours scouring complicated web portals were snagging more appointment slots, which prompted public health officials to take measures aimed at getting more of the doses to underserved communities where the virus has hit the hardest.
About a third of the adult population in many counties across the state have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 15-25% are fully vaccinated.
In Orange County, 18% of people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated. The county has given out about 1.2 million doses so far.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County, the state's largest, has fully vaccinated 16% of its adult population.
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The state of 40 million people has seen coronavirus infections plummet in recent weeks following a winter surge. That has paved the way for more businesses to reopen and more schools to bring back in-person instruction.
State public health officials have said more activity can resume as vaccinations continue to rise in the poorest communities. But they have not said how many shots will need to be administered to push beyond its color-coded system guiding business reopenings.
Earlier this week, nine more California counties moved to less-restrictive tiers in the state's reopening framework, allowing more businesses to open up.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.