SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The coronavirus vaccine program once criticized by Governor Gavin Newsom for moving too slowly, he now touts as one of the strongest in America.
“Today, we have the most robust vaccination program in America,” Newsom said during his untraditional State of the State address from Dodgers Stadium Tuesday.
At the tune of more than 10.9 million doses, California has administered far more vaccines than any other state in the union, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker. Texas follows, having administered nearly 7.3 million doses.
On Sunday, the Governor tweeted that the Golden State was number six in the world only behind India, the United Kingdom, the European Union, China and the United States for administering the most vaccines.
While it’s true California has vaccinated more people than any other state, the number pales in comparison when considering the rate vaccinations are taking place in the nation’s most populous state of nearly 40 million people.
“We’ve built a vaccine system where our only constraint now is manufactured supply,” Newsom said.
Nearly 28% of Californians, aged 16 and older, have received their first dose of the vaccine compared to Alaska, which has administered the first vaccine doses to 41.3% of its residents, according to CDC data.
California’s vaccination rate is near the bottom, number 47 on a CDC list of 67 U.S. government entities which includes all 50 states, territories, and other entities like the Bureau of Prisons.
“When this pandemic ends—and it will end soon—we’re not going back to normal,” Newsom said. “Normal was never good enough.”
The Governor doubled down on his commitment to equity in the state’s vaccine rollout.
“We prioritize those who are at the greatest risk and with greatest exposure to the virus,” Newsom said. “We don’t just talk about vaccine equity—we designed our entire system around it.”
On March 3, Newsom announced the state would set aside 40% of all vaccine doses for California’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. He said the state would distribute doses to 400 ZIP codes where about 8 million people live.
Those neighborhoods are primarily made up of Latino, Black, and Asian and Pacific Islanders that have been historically underserved said a California State official who spoke on background.
"By vaccinating more people, and those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, science tells us that the disease should spread more slowly, giving variants fewer opportunities to take hold, and the health care system should be preserved," said Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency Dr. Mark Ghaly.
Starting on March 1, California promised at least 10% of its vaccines will be set aside for teachers and school staff. The state is also prioritizing grocery and farmworkers.
State officials also announced recently that Californians who volunteer at community vaccine clinics will become eligible to receive the vaccine, though it’s not a guarantee.