Vaccine eligibility expanding to 50+ starting Thursday

EL CENTRO — Herd immunity for COVID-19, at least for California, received a big boost when the state announced this week its new vaccine schedule.

Beginning Thursday, Californians who are 50 and older will be eligible to receive COVID-19 doses.

At Thursday’s joint press conference with the Imperial County Public Health Department, Public Health Officer Dr. Stephen Munday also announced that all people in the state who are at least 16 years of age will be eligible to be vaccinated beginning on April 15.

With supply of vaccines expected to significantly increase in the coming weeks, the state decided to make vaccine eligibility to more Californians.

The new guidance only states residents will be eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated starting on both April 1 and April 15. It does not specify when the appointments will take place.

According to the California Department of Public Health, it will still take months to get every Californian vaccinated who wants to be, but millions are being vaccinated each week.

Munday said, while all county residents will be eligible to receive the doses in less than three weeks, they will still prioritize.

“(We) will have the option to get the vaccine to everyone who needs it,” he said.

ICPHD has a great vaccine team, Munday said, and the latest guidance will be added to what already has been developed.

He also pointed out the COVID-19 cases in the county continue to drop, and the county could move into the orange tier as early as next week, saying officials are super excited about that possibility.

He warned people to be cautious and safe during spring break to help avoid a surge in cases.

ICPHD Director Janette Angulo said while the county has met the metrics to move into the orange metric, it must stay there for two weeks.

So far, she said, there have been almost 55,100 doses administered and about 66 percent (36,437) have been partially vaccinated.

About 18,660 residents have been fully vaccinated, and the county is expected to receive another 9,010 doses this week.

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