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As vaccination efforts increase in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all Californians over 16 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, with no limitations, starting April 15.

By that time, California expects to see more than 3 million weekly doses allocated to the state, an increase from its current 1.8 million weekly doses.

“In just a few weeks there will be no rules no limitations as it relates to the ability to get a vaccine administered,” Gov. Newsom said in a Thursday press conference. “We are now working with providers all up and down the state to prepare for a surge of access and demand once that limitation… is lifted.”

Before vaccine eligibility completely expands to those over 16, Californians of age 50 and over will become eligible for the vaccine on April 1.

Newsom added that the state is “not walking away from our equity commitments,” as it continues efforts to allocate 40% of doses to harder hit communities.

If 4 million doses are administered in those areas around California, the thresholds for counties to move down in reopening tiers will loosen, as they did when the state reached 2 million vaccinations in designated hard-hit areas.

As counties such as Los Angeles and Orange move closer to the “orange tier” of reopening, Newsom hinted at a “green tier,” which is not yet in the current Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

“We are even closer to putting this pandemic behind us with today’s announcement and with vaccine supplies expected to increase dramatically in the months ahead,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “However, we are not there yet. It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down. It is important that we remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance.”

Even with positive cases lowering throughout the state, multiple variants have made their way to California, in addition to 8,800 cases from a California variant.

“We’re mindful we are monitoring 474 individuals… that have the U.K. variant,” Newsom said. “We now have six variants, six mutations from the Brazilian variant in the state, four from South Africa, we have a number of New York variants in California and we have our own home grown mutation referred to as the ‘West coast variant.'”

Because of the variants, Newsom advised that Californians continue to wear their masks and “let us work through the next couple of weeks until we get to a place of abundance… where we can meaningfully begin to reopen the economy without the kinds of modifications that we’re currently experiencing.”

LA Weekly