San Diego County Expands Vaccine Eligibility To People 75 And Older
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego County is now making COVID-19 vaccines available to the population. Most likely to become seriously ill from the virus, people 75 and up can now make appointments to get their shots at County vaccination sites, including the Supersite at Petco park. Other healthcare organizations are expected to open up their appointments to seniors. Script's health says it plans to start accepting appointments for patients 65 and older beginning tomorrow. But the caveat in this good news as always is vaccine availability, which is still in limited supply. Joining me as KPBS health reporter Taran Manto Taran. Welcome. Thanks Maureen. Why did the County say it could now start vaccinating people 75 and over Speaker 2: 00:45 Statement from County officials that it had to do with a slow down in demand among healthcare workers. That's the group that's been prioritized since the beginning, along with long-term care facility, residents and employees. Um, but yesterday there were more open appointments than they expected possibly caused by the holiday, but they had all their vaccinators standing by. So they wanted to fill those openings very quickly. Initially they decided to just expand it to people 65 years and older for just that day. But then later that change and it was fully opened up to anyone 75 years and older. Um, you know, that means that some people between 65 and 74 years may have gotten appointment just yesterday, but only people 75 and older can make appointments. Now going forward, the County has said it hopes to fully expand to 65 years and older sometime next week. Speaker 1: 01:35 Okay. Okay. Wow. So KPBS has been getting a lot of questions from our audience about this here's one from a listener named Ted who's in his late seventies, Speaker 3: 01:45 We've called around. We're able to get an appointment, uh, a waiting list to get the vaccinations with having no idea when, and also I'm concerned that there's not enough vaccine go around. So that's my problem. And I'm hoping that we can get the vaccination soon. Speaker 1: 02:06 Okay. Taryn. So how does that appointment system work? How do people sign up and where do they go? Speaker 2: 02:11 So for the county's vaccination locations, people should be able to make appointments online at the county's website. The locations are the Supersite at Petco park, but there's also smaller sites around the region. And, you know, we have links to all of those sites at kpbs.org/vaccine. So you can go there, click individual sites and see if there are open appointments. Um, or again, you can go directly to the county's website. And if people prefer to call, I, I, you know, two, one, one has been where the County has been pushing people to get information. So you can also try to one-on-one. Um, but if you still have trouble, you can contact us at KPBS and we can see if we can help you navigate, but the county's vaccinations are, are, are appointment only. They aren't taking walk-ups. Um, and as far as people, it gets a little confusing when people are trying to learn if their own provider is doing vaccinations for people that are of a certain age, you know, the, the we're getting messaging from the County that you should be double checking with your provider to see if they have vaccinations available for you, because the county's supposed to be the safety net. Speaker 2: 03:14 So if you can get a vaccination elsewhere, you know, we don't want to use a vaccination, um, on you. If there is somebody who doesn't have that provider and can't get it in needs and only from the County, but we know providers are also worried that people are going to overwhelm their phone lines with, with these questions when they have limited supply. So they're trying to tell people, Hey, we will contact you and you will get an invitation for when you can get a vaccine. So it is a little bit confusing, but hopefully those systems are working and people who can get a vaccinate, vaccination are being notified. And then there is the county's website. If people want to sign up there, Speaker 1: 03:51 But straight up a 75 year old San Diego, and who is a patient of scripts or Kaiser or other health care organization, once a vaccine, now they can contact the County. Is that right? Speaker 2: 04:02 Correct. Correct. The counties is making its vaccination sites available to people who are 75 years or older. Absolutely. And they should be able to make an appointment. Although we know that appointments for yesterday filled up very quickly once the County made that announcement. So they may not be able to get it right away. Do we know Speaker 1: 04:20 Anything more about the problem with that batch of modern, a vaccine that caused a higher than usual number of allergic reactions at a clinic here in San Diego? Speaker 2: 04:29 Yes. So there was a six allergic reactions that occurred among healthcare workers. I believe at the Petco park location, the investigation as to what happened is ongoing by the FDA and CDC. But I did ask UCS D about this, which is helping to manage, uh, the Supersite. And I talked to UCLA health, Dr. Christopher Long Hearst. And this is what he had to say. Speaker 4: 04:51 And even those folks that are having, um, some reactions we're able to manage those right. Nobody's had long-term impact. And it's still a very small percentage of the folks that we've vaccinated, Speaker 2: 05:02 Right? And so he said, you know, about 25,000 people were vaccinated over the last seven days. And there were six severe reactions, which were higher. The cluster was higher than what's expected based on research out there, but still very, very, very few compared to the volume of people receiving the vaccination and people who have had past reactions to vaccines or severe food allergies are supposed to talk to the provider or the backseater about that ahead of time Speaker 1: 05:28 Moving to the cases of COVID-19 in the County. Are there any signs it's slowing down? Speaker 2: 05:34 Well, you know, hospitalizations are relatively steady, but still very high. And that's been the largest we've seen since the pandemic began, but it's, it seems to be holding there at least for the past several days. And as far as cases, we haven't broken a daily case total record in a while, which is a good sign, but again, daily case totals are still very high. And, you know, we're almost three weeks since new year's Eve when people weren't supposed to gather, but, um, officials expected, they would. And, and we do know that we see a jump and hospitalizations about two to three weeks after those kinds of holidays and gathering events. So we're nearly there. And hopefully that means good news. Um, but we do know of a more contagious strain that circulating. So things are unpredictable as they've been for a while. Now, Speaker 1: 06:23 Talk to us a little bit more about the concerns about the COVID variant, which is now circulating in the community. There are some, um, experts who are predicting that could be the dominant strain in the U S by March, Speaker 2: 06:37 Right. Um, you know, they're actually kind of, you know, two strains, um, one that is believed to be, um, or evidence has shown that it is a more contagious, it was first discovered or reported in the United Kingdom. Some cases have been confirmed in San Diego and elsewhere in California. Um, and then, uh, state officials recently just had at late Sunday night, unexpected, um, news conference or news briefing talking about another strain that they're increasingly seeing more of, but we do need to wait until there's more research to definitively know, um, how this will affect vaccines, how this will affect, um, the severity of illnesses right now, it doesn't seem like the strain first found in the UK is actually increasing the severity of someone of how sick someone gets or nor the, the fatality of it. Um, and so that's a good sign and they don't believe that it's actually going to, um, impact the efficacy of the vaccine, but we need to be ha we need to have that definitive data. Um, and so research is, is ongoing to kind of figure out what this does mean for us Speaker 1: 07:40 And Taryn. Is there any optimism that you can pick up about the change in administrations and the focus on COVID that the Biden administration has been talking about? Speaker 2: 07:50 You know, it's, it's pretty clear that right now, things aren't great. And so change brings hope, and I think people are, you know, really banking on the fact that, um, doing something different is at least better than what we're doing right now. Speaker 1: 08:07 I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Taren, mento, Terran. Thank you very much. Thanks, Maureen. Speaker 5: 08:19 [inaudible].