California will begin reserving 10 percent of its weekly coronavirus vaccine shipments for the state’s educators in an effort to resume in-person classes across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.
According to Newsom, 35 of the state’s 58 counties have already made vaccine doses available to teachers after a lack of supply hampered plans to quickly vaccinate other essential workers.
State officials expect the federal government to ship roughly 1.4 million doses to the state’s local health departments and multi-county health care providers over each of the next three weeks, enabling the state to set aside 10 percent of each of those shipments for teachers.
At least 75,000 doses will be set aside from each shipment beginning March 1, according to Newsom, who credited President Joe Biden’s administration for giving a multi-week preview of vaccine shipments that enabled state officials to formally reserve doses for teachers each week.
“The only constraint to substantially increasing our administration of doses is a constraint on manufactured supply,” Newsom said during a briefing on the pandemic at a mobile vaccine clinic in Hayward.
Despite the state’s vaccination progress, administered doses to teachers has continued to be a sticking point between Newsom’s administration, state legislators and teachers’ unions, the latter of which has demanded that all teachers be vaccinated before in-person learning resumes, something Newsom has downplayed as a necessity.
Newsom maintained on Friday that he wanted schools across the state to reopen before the end of the academic year, but reiterated that he would not support a pair of bills that state legislators are currently considering to reopen schools.
Newsom argued the bills, which would allow students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade to return to class by April 15 provided their county is in the “red tier” of the state’s four-tiered reopening system, would actually slow the pace of reopening.
State officials have already issued public health guidance allowing students in lower grades to return to class if their county has up to 25 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. The bills would require counties to be under seven cases per 100,000 before students returned to class.
Newsom also said he would not support the bill if legislators approved it as early as next week.
“Unfortunately, what was put into print would slow down the process of reopening our schools and that is something I can’t support,” Newsom said.
As of Friday, 6.9 million vaccine doses had been administered statewide. Newsom said that while 1.4 million doses were administered last week, the state’s vaccination infrastructure has the capacity to administer up to 4 million doses every week provided it has access to enough supply from manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna.
The state also hit a new high Thursday for vaccines administered in a single day with 264,000.
The 6.9 million administered doses “represents one of the highest numbers of vaccines administered, not only of any state, but of all but seven nations in the world,” Newsom said.