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Limited Vaccine Supply Slows San Diego County's Vaccination Goal Progress

A health care worker at a county vaccination site fills a syringe with a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Jan. 14, 2021.
Tarryn Mento
A health care worker at a county vaccination site fills a syringe with a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Jan. 14, 2021.

About 12,000 daily COVID-19 vaccine doses went into the arms of San Diegans the first week of this month. But that tally, which excludes any administered by the military, Veterans' Affairs and tribal agencies, is below the daily doses needed to reach the county’s goal of fully vaccinating 70% of the region’s population by July.

The county and other providers in the region need to be delivering 22,881 doses a day to reach that target, but officials said they continued to be hamstrung by the limited vaccine shipments coming from the state.

Limited Vaccine Supply Slows San Diego County’s Vaccination Goal Progress
Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

County Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione told the board of supervisors Tuesday the region actually has the infrastructure to administer 21,000 doses a day, but the current vaccine supply is far below the county’s needs.


“Last week ... we received just over a quarter of what we requested from the state,” Macchione said during the presentation. “Many of our providers saw large reductions in the number of vaccines they were given and many did not receive any at all.”

RELATED: How To Get 1.8 Million San Diegans Vaccinated

Macchione told KPBS in a follow up interview Wednesday that the average daily doses administered may be higher than 12,000 and therefore the average daily doses needed may be fewer than 22,881 because of the agencies that don’t directly report their vaccinations to the county.

“As much as we would love to, love to know what those numbers are, because we know we'd be much higher than we are — because we don't have them, we had to go with then as if they didn't exist,” Macchione said.

He said about one-third of the county’s population are active duty service members, veterans and/or their family members who may receive vaccinations that may not make it in the county's tally.


Despite the challenges, Macchione said the county is continuing to expand vaccination capacity to 35,000 doses a day, which he hopes to achieve by the end of February.

There are also just more than 141,000 doses in the county waiting to be administered, according to Macchione’s Tuesday update to board. He said 30,000 doses are evenly split between the county for its sites and the retail pharmacies charged with vaccinating those in long-term care facilities, while 111,000 are in the possession of the 263 state-approved vaccinators in the region, including hospitals, community clinics and medical offices.

Macchione told KPBS officials are working with individual vaccinators to ensure they use doses in a timely fashion but the county has had to reallocate some supply from providers that were unable to administer them quickly enough.

“They were sitting on some of that and did not have a plan by which they could effectively use it for the eligible population, so absolutely, that did take place,” he said.

The county set a goal to vaccinate 70% of the region’s population that is 16 years or older by July 1. That measures out to 1,882,544 San Diegans. Because the current emergency approved COVID-19 vaccines require two shots, the daily figure of 22,881 is what’s needed to give both doses.

The daily doses needed was previously 23,434 but was reduced because more vaccinations were accomplished in January than previously expected.