LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 07:  A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a staff member at the Ararat Nursing Facility in the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on January 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Residents and staff at long term care facilities are on the CDC's highest priority list for vaccinations. While COVID-19 cases in nursing facilities represent just 5 percent of the total cases in California, they account for 35 percent of all Covid deaths in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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01:54 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

California adults 65 and older are now eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine, state officials announced Wednesday in a bid to boost the number of people who receive a shot, even as demand “continues to far exceed supply.”

“We are significantly increasing our efforts to get these vaccines administered, get them out of freezers and get them into people’s arms,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video message posted to his Twitter account.

But in Los Angeles County, seniors won’t be allowed to receive shots until the county’s health care workers are vaccinated – a process that’s expected to stretch into February – said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, citing supply shortages.

“Neither the state nor us is wanting to divert the strategy to get health care workers vaccinated,” Ferrer said Wednesday during a virtual briefing. “That is the priority.”

In Santa Clara County, short supply meant the county’s health system was open Wednesday for vaccinations only for people 75 and older, in addition to health care workers and long-term care facility residents, officials there said.

500,000 LA health care workers to get shots

Los Angeles County has in recent weeks been the epicenter of the state’s battle against Covid-19. About 1 in 3 residents have been infected since the pandemic’s start, according to new county data.

Infections are so widespread, officials this week warned essential workers to wear masks inside their own homes. Hospitals have reached the breaking point. And last week, county officials said a person was dying of Covid-19 every eight minutes.

County health officials reported more than 194,000 first doses of the vaccine had been administered to people in Phase 1A – health care workers and long-term care facility residents – and they were preparing to ramp up vaccine capacity for 500,000 frontline health care workers.

To speed up the vaccination process, a new registration system is now open, and five mass vaccination sites will soon be operating across the county, Ferrer said. Those sites “are only open to healthcare workers in Phase 1A,” health officials said in a news release.

“As the County completes Phase 1A, we can look to starting vaccinations for groups within next phase – 1B, starting with those who are 65 and older as noted by the Governor today,” the release said. “We are working with the State to identify additional vaccine doses so that we can start to schedule appointments once the doses arrive.”

Supply limitations hinder loosening age limit

In Santa Clara County, the health system was open Wednesday for vaccinations for people 75 and older, in addition to people in Phase 1A, officials there said.

“We are constrained by the vaccine supply that we have available here locally,” County Counsel James Williams said during a news conference. “As we continue to get more vaccine, we’ll continue to move as quickly as we can through eligible tiers.”

“But this is where we are at right now,” Williams added.

County officials hope to be able to vaccinate residents 65 and older “as soon as we get more vaccine supply here locally,” Williams added.

The county requested 100,000 more vaccine doses, but the state only authorized an additional 6,000, he said.

CNN’s Sarah Moon contributed to this report.