California to begin COVID-19 vaccinations for those at highest risk in mid-March

FILE - Registered nurse Emily Enos attempts to extract an extra dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine outside the Los Angeles Mission located in the Skid Row community on Feb.10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

California Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Friday that as of March 15, state healthcare providers can begin vaccinating people ages 16-64 with the "highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19."

Those risks include cancer, chronic kidney or pulmonary disease, down syndrome, weakened immune system, pregnancy, Sickle cell disease, heart conditions, severe obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

People may also be eligible for the vaccine if they have a disability that makes them likely to develop a life-threatening illness from COVID-19.

Currently, there are 13 million people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. This new group will add an estimated 4-6 million people to that group, meaning 17-19 million people are able to sign up to get vaccinated.

Healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement in deciding if an individual is eligible for the vaccine.