California's Gavin Newsom, Facing Recall, Accelerates Sluggish Vaccine Rollout

California Governor Gavin Newsom is trying to boost the state's sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout, arguing that states need more vaccines and clarity from the federal government as he faces a mounting recall effort from activists unhappy with his record in office.

The Democratic state leader promised to have 1.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in California by Sunday, and was most of the way to his arbitrary self-imposed target on Saturday.

According to the latest California Department of Public Health data, a little more than 1.3 million vaccine doses had been administered as of January 16, meaning a further 200,000 needed to be rolled out on January 17 for Newsom to hit his goal.

Whether or not the California governor has reached his target, the state is still in the bottom half of the state-by-state vaccine rollout table. Our World in Data analysis from Friday revealed that the Golden State had vaccinated 2.7 out of every 100 people in the area.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom addresses a press conference held at the launch of mass Covid-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Irfan Khan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

By comparison, large states such as Texas and Florida had managed to vaccinate roughly four in every 100 people in their borders as of Friday. A handful of states had given doses to more than six per 100 people.

Posting on social media last night, Newsom seemed to shift blame onto the federal government. "It's simple -- states need more vaccines and clarity of when we will be receiving them," he tweeted. "[The Department of Health and Human Services] has achieved the opposite."

The governor later added that California was trying to "ramp up" its COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts with more vaccination sites, and a boost in the number of people delivering the vaccines. At a press briefing on Friday, he also said the state was making progress with the vital public health campaign.

"We've got to increase the pace in the distribution and administration of these vaccines," the governor added. "The reality is we need to get these vaccines out of the freezer, and we need to get them into people's arms."

Newsom spoke of ramping up the state's vaccination efforts as activists claimed that they had gathered more than 1 million signatures on a recall petition against the California governor.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday that the group had gathered 1.1 million signatures on its petition, and would have to submit at least 1.5 million valid signatures by March 17. The campaign was dubbed a "coup" by California Democratic Party chair Rusty Hicks, who also tried to associate the campaign with "right-wing conspiracy theorists."

Newsweek has contacted the California governor's office for comment. This article will be updated with any response.