On Monday, Contra Costa County expanded its COVID vaccine eligibility requirements to everyone age 50 and over, regardless of health conditions. It's the second Bay Area county to do so after Solano County made the same move last week.
Contra Costa County, with an estimated population of 1.15 million, is now the biggest county in the state to expand eligibility to those age 50 to 64, just a week after eligibility expanded statewide to residents with any of a list of serious health conditions and disabilities. The change is effective immediately for Contra Costa County, thanks to rising vaccine supplies.
"We look forward to the coming months when we can do away with vaccine eligibility, when anyone and everyone is eligible," says Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Diane Burgis in a statement. "More and more doses of vaccine are coming into the county each week and we expect that trend to continue."
On Monday, the state of Florida did the same thing to expand eligibility to the 50+ set, and likely more counties will soon be on the way.
Late last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he expects California will be able to open the floodgates to everyone age 16 and up to get their vaccines by the last week of April. He said eligibility requirements could be jettisoned by late April because the vaccine "supply will exponentially increase" by then.
President Joe Biden has recently given the date of May 1st for doing away with the eligibility tiers.
In Solano County last week, Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas cited the "exceptionally good relationships with our hospital providers" for being able to expand eligibility ahead of any other Bay Area county — and it helps that the county's population is one of the smallest in the region, with just under 448,000 residents. As Matyas told ABC 7, "Over the past month we've been able to vaccinate tens of thousands of people each weekend and with that, we've been able to move through the tiers much more quickly."
But all is not so rosy after making the move. As KRON4 reports Monday, Solano County is urgently asking for more vaccination allocation from the state, citing the fact that it has the third-lowest allocation per 1,000 residents of any California county. County Supervisor John M. Vasquez made the plea to the governor's office, also pointing to the fact that similar-sized counties with higher median incomes are receiving much more vaccine per capita.
Contra Costa County has a goal of administering 1 million vaccines by July 1, which would presumably cover almost everyone who lives or works in the county over the age of 16. As of Monday, the county was over halfway to that goal with 515,000 first and second doses administered.
Nationwide, 24% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, and California is slightly ahead of the national average with 24.9%.
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