Newsom Commemorates ‘Vax Day’ as California Opens Shots to 16 and Older

With doses up and cases down, Newsom says the June 15 grand reopening of the Golden State — and its hulking economy — is still on.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters at a coronavirus vaccination site in Alameda County on April 15, 2021.

(CN) — Greatly outpacing all other states in administering the Covid-19 vaccine, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday nearly half of all eligible residents are at least partly vaccinated.

California has administered 8 million more shots than any other state, and Thursday’s vaccine milestone comes as the state has officially opened eligibility to all residents age 16 and over. The upbeat governor marked the eligibility expansion from a vaccination site in Alameda County, urging all Californians to quickly sign up for the vaccine as the state continues its comeback.  

“The state of California is administering doses at scale,” Newsom said. “April 15, 2021, in the state of California is not Tax Day, it’s ‘Vax Day.’”

Paired with over 24 million doses issued, including over 500,000 on Wednesday alone, California’s pandemic figures continue to trend in the right direction.

California currently boasts the lowest testing positivity rate of any state at 1.7% and its Covid-19 hospitalizations have dropped from a peak of over 22,000 in January to 1,800 on Thursday. The progress has been widespread in the state of 40 million, with each of the 58 counties having advanced out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s tiered-reopening framework.

The improving numbers and loosening of businesses restrictions are predictably having a positive economic impact: California’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point of the pandemic in February, with employers adding over 141,000 jobs.   

Newsom, who will likely face a recall election this fall spurred by detractors who don’t like his handling of the pandemic, claimed the assortment of good news is just the beginning for the Golden State.  

“Wait until the March numbers come out; this state is ready to come roaring back,” Newsom said of the federal update expected to be released Friday.

While all adults and some teenagers can officially sign up for the vaccine, finding a shot is still a problem for countless Californians. For weeks and even months people have been traveling outside their own cites to find the vaccine, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area where counties have been demanding more supply.

Pressed about the lack of supply in some areas, the Democratic governor urged patience and said the state is well-equipped to ramp up the pace of vaccinations once more become available from the federal government. Though 2.7 million shots were given last week, Newsom said vaccinators could currently handle up to 6 million if needed.

Californians can sign up for vaccine appointments at https://myturn.ca.gov/ and all shots are free regardless of insurance or immigration status.

State officials expect vaccine supply to remain essentially flat in the coming weeks, partly due to pending safety concerns regarding the Johnson & Johnson version. However, Newsom said the Johnson & Johnson pause doesn’t figure to have a major short-term effect in California as it accounts for about 4% of the state’s supply.

He also said the state’s scheduled reopening date of June 15 is still realistic.

“We are making progress, we’re going to defeat this disease,” Newsom said. “We’re going to end this pandemic, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

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