Anyone 16 or older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination in north central Idaho.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by the Public Health – Idaho North Central District. The district encompasses Latah, Nez Perce, Lewis, Clearwater and Idaho counties.

Carol Moehrle, the Public Health district director, had this to say in a news release: “Public Health – Idaho North Central District and our community partners have both supply and appointments available but continue to see a decline in demand. After assessing the situation with our enrolled vaccine providers, we have made the decision as a group to move forward to include everyone aged 16 and older.”

The announcement was made after Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced earlier Wednesday that all Idahoans 16 or older will be eligible beginning April 5.

“I’d like to thank the (more than) 390,000 Idahoans who have chosen to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Little said. “You’ve chosen to take one of the most important steps in the pandemic fight to save lives and get us closer to normal.”

Little also stressed the safety and efficacy of the various COVID-19 vaccines, encouraging people to talk with their health care providers if they have questions.

“With each passing week, as more and more choose to get vaccinated, we’re getting closer to returning to normal,” he said. “The COVID vaccine is really our best shot at protecting jobs, saving lives and keeping kids in school.”

As of Wednesday, 28.3 percent of Idaho’s adult population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 17.6 percent were fully inoculated.

In terms of the number of doses administered, the Region 2 Public Health – Idaho North Central District was running well behind other parts of the state. It has administered 32,866 doses, compared to 51,446 for the next lowest region, in southeastern Idaho.

Region 2 also trailed the other six health districts in terms of the percentage of doses received that have been administered. It was at 75.4 percent, compared to a statewide average of 84.3 percent.

Idaho reported 425 new confirmed or probable cases of the virus on Wednesday, with one new death. That brings the totals to 178,544 and 1,952, respectively.

There were 12 new cases in north central Idaho, plus another seven in southeastern Washington. The entire region has seen more than 14,000 cases since the pandemic began; that includes 178 fatalities.

Washington reported 963 new COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths, for a total of 357,499 and 5,200, respectively.

Worldwide, more than 124 million people have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Nearly 2.75 million COVID-related deaths have been recorded.

The United States, which has about 4 percent of the world population, accounts for more than 24 percent of reported COVID-19 cases, and nearly 20 percent of the global death toll.