California Allowing Seniors 65 And Older To Get COVID-19 Vaccine
Speaker 1: 00:00 California 65 and over are now eligible to receive a vaccination against COVID-19. But healthcare providers in San Diego are saying not so fast yesterday. Governor Newsome gave the go ahead to expand vaccine eligibility to older residents in accord with the latest guidelines from the CDC. But local hospitals are advising seniors not to try to make an appointment for vaccination just yet. The amount of vaccine needed is not available. And the organizational structure required to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of San Diego. NS is not yet in place. Joining me is Jonathan Wilson, who covers biotech for the San Diego union Tribune. Jonathan, welcome back. Speaker 2: 00:43 Thanks for having me now. Some healthcare Speaker 1: 00:45 Providers are concerned that this news about people 65 and older being able to get vaccinated will increase confusion and frustration about getting a shot. Now, why is that? Speaker 2: 00:57 Well that's because we have more than 473,000 San Diego moms who are at least 65 and up and so far, the region has only received around 240,000 doses. So we're still at a point where supply is less than demand. The region has been focused on getting vaccine, the people in nursing homes and people in healthcare. And we've had a pretty slow rollout in that regard about 80,000 San Diego. And so gotten their shots. Now that first group of healthcare workers, nursing home residents includes about 620,000 people. So basically we were struggling to vaccinate that initial group. And now this essentially means that about 1 million San Diego ones are at least on paper eligible to get vaccine. You can technically get a shot, but in reality, you may not be able to get one quite, just yet. Speaker 1: 01:52 So the County and its health care partners are still engaged in vaccinating, the first population and that's healthcare workers and nursing home residents. Why is that process going so slowly? Speaker 2: 02:03 So I've heard a lot of different reasons from different people, everything from, you know, vaccine hesitancy that, you know, the fact that not every healthcare worker who has been offered the vaccine has chosen to take it at this point. Uh, the fact that this whole effort started during the holiday season. So some people prefer not to get their vaccine immediately knowing that they would probably have to get their second dose at a time when they would be off from work. You know, we've heard a complaint is that the County and that the state aren't getting enough funding for this whole effort, uh, that there aren't enough people who are trained and available to administer vaccine. And I think frankly, just a lot of confusion, even among people in those first groups about exactly when and where and how they can get their, get their shots. So, you know, you could probably go on from there, but those are at least some of the issues we've been hearing. San Speaker 1: 02:57 Diego is not the only County inadequate supplies of vaccine. So why would governor Newsome make this announcement if counties weren't ready? Speaker 2: 03:06 Well, it kind of goes back to the previous day. So on, on Tuesday, the CDC and the federal government, uh, basically announced that States that haven't already begun vaccinating people who are older and have pre-existing medical conditions, uh, really need to start doing that as soon as possible. So the federal government on Tuesday urged States to open up the vaccine eligibility, uh, immediately, you know, the state the next day came out with a statement saying that, uh, that they would be doing that. But you know, it is going to be up to the counties to implement that on a local level. So orange County has already started San Diego County run vaccination sites. Won't actually be immunizing people 65. And up until maybe the week of January 25th, Speaker 1: 03:55 I know San Diego County is making some ambitious plans about vaccinations. What are their new goals? Speaker 2: 04:02 So the big goal is to vaccinate about 1.9 million San Diego wins by July 1st, that represents 70% of people in the County who are age 16 and up. So the vaccines that are out there right now have been cleared, uh, for people who are 16 or older, depending on which of the two vaccines we're talking about. And so to get there, what we're going to have to do is nearly quadruple the rate of vaccination. Right now, we're at around 6,000 shots a day, and we're going to have to get up to around 23,000 shots a day and then do that each and every day between roughly the end of this month, beginning of next, that's going to require going from having one vaccine Supersite at Petco park to four for such sites around the County. We're going to have to have 12 of what the County is calling is points of distribution. These are smaller places where people who are otherwise unable to get a shot, but are eligible to get a, to get vaccinated can go. Um, and the County has said, they're willing to spend about a hundred million dollars to build up the infrastructure and, and pay for the staff. It's going to take to do this. Speaker 1: 05:13 And what's the situation right now? Are healthcare workers still the priority for getting vaccinations? Speaker 2: 05:19 Yeah, the basic system for the time being at least for the next week or so is still nursing, nursing, home residents, people in healthcare. Uh, by the end of this month, we might see, you know, more widespread vaccination for older adults. And then by the beginning of February, we'll we may see essential workers, police officers, uh, grocery store workers, teachers, uh, start to get their shots, at least from what Dr. Goldman Luton mentioned yesterday during the county's weekly briefing there, Speaker 1: 05:50 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter, Jonathan Mosen, and Jonathan, thanks so much.