San Diego State To Open COVID-19 Vaccine Site In Viejas Arena Tuesday
Speaker 1: 00:00 Today the County and San Diego state university announced the opening of a new vaccination side at VA Hoss arena. Here's San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher this morning. Speaker 2: 00:10 This is a broader community site available to all with a focus and prioritization and dedication of sites for those communities that have been hardest to reach. Speaker 1: 00:20 Also San Diego County joined blue shield statewide vaccine program, and AstraZeneca is expected to apply for emergency use authorization soon after promising us trials of its COVID-19 vaccine. So how will all of this impact where and how you get your vaccine San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter Jonathan Rosen is joining us to talk about it. Jonathan Speaker 3: 00:43 Welcome. Thank you for having me. So Speaker 1: 00:45 While the Petco park vaccination site has closed, as we just heard, another site will open the County and SDSU or teaming up to open VA HASA arena as a vaccination site. What can you tell us about that? Speaker 3: 00:58 Well, this should be happening Tuesday. Tuesday is going to be the first day that the site will open. It'll stay open from Tuesdays through Saturday, about nine 30 to three 30. Uh, they're going to start out pretty slowly, depending on vaccine availability, vaccinating about a couple hundred people on the first day scaling up to around 750 on the second day, which would be Wednesday, but then ultimately once the supply comes in and once the site's really up and running, it's going to be around 1500 doses a day, uh, to San Diego moms who were in the many, many eligible groups that we have for vaccine right now. Speaker 1: 01:35 And we just heard supervisor Nathan Fletcher referred to equitable distribution of the vaccine. Remind us how the County has been doing to make sure the vaccine distribution is equitable, Speaker 3: 01:47 Right? So the County has got more than two dozen vaccine sites scattered throughout San Diego from the South Bay to North County. And basically all of these sites are in or near health equity regions areas that based on certain metrics from the state are socioeconomically disadvantaged. We also know the County is setting aside certain doses for community health workers to be able to make appointments in certain communities of color refugee communities, groups like that. So they've, they're trying to build out this infrastructure where you have vaccine sites and you have partner organizations that are helping them in various parts of the region. The only thing we need now is a consistent supply of vaccine, which obviously is the key to making this whole thing run. Speaker 1: 02:36 And also, you know, as a new site opens, the County is also announcing a partnership with blue shield to distribute vaccines. How does this new agreement with blue shield statewide vaccine program affect when, where and how people can actually get their shots? Speaker 3: 02:52 Yeah, it's a good question. Especially given that the County was in discussions with blue shield for, you know, many, many weeks along with almost every other County in the state, but what came out of that was, uh, at least on the surface, seems like it won't change things locally, too much. The County is still going to have the ability to take its vaccine supply and reroute that to local health health care systems that are helping vaccinate the general public. Uh, basically what's happening now is that the County is formally part of the statewide network of vaccine providers and blue Shield's main role is essentially going to be in figuring out exactly where the vaccine is at every point in the process. So how much vaccine each provider has, how much they're using, how quickly they're using it. And then based on that kind of data, there'll be making recommendations to state about what providers should get more vaccine or less vaccine or ways to really tweak the rollout. But at least on the surface, it seems like despite all the delays around this deal, that the vaccination program is going to be relatively the same, um, you know, in San Diego Speaker 1: 04:05 And as you reported, the county's vaccination system seemed to be working pretty well with about 41,000 doses given out per 100,000 residents as of last Thursday. So why was this deal necessary? Speaker 3: 04:18 I think it goes back to a couple of months ago to late January, which was when governor Newsome announced it. And at that point we really didn't have much good data on how many vaccine doses were in San Diego, how many vaccine doses were being used in San Diego. And that was the case pretty much statewide. So, you know, and from what we were seeing, it actually didn't look good and look like California was using administering right around 25%. So about one out of every four shots that were doses that were coming into the state. So there was definitely a lot of, there's a big push to make the vaccine rollout more efficient. Now there weren't nearly as many vaccine sites and the data visibility was poor. And that was around the time that the Newsome announced that blue shield was coming in. So to some degree, it kind of goes back to that early, earlier period of the rollout. Speaker 1: 05:14 And with this, will there be changes, uh, in how people are able to schedule their appointments? Speaker 3: 05:21 Well, the main change is going to be that every vaccine site in the region is, or soon will be moving to my terms. This is my turn.ca.gov, the vaccine notification and appointment scheduling tool that, that the state had launched earlier in the year. So we're already seeing, for example, UC San Diego setting up appointments through my term for, for its sites, including the, the Rimac, uh, vaccine Superstation on UC San Diego's campus. So, you know, there, there is going to be an emphasis on getting all the data flowing through one system, as opposed to having it scattered to the point where it's actually hard to tell how much vaccine is being used at these different sites when there's different providers. Speaker 1: 06:09 And let's talk about the AstraZeneca vaccine, it had promising results in us clinical trials. The company says it showed a 79% efficacy rate at preventing COVID-19 symptoms and 100% effective at preventing severe symptoms. But are there still questions about this vaccine safety? Speaker 3: 06:27 Yeah. So in terms of AstraZeneca vaccine, I think there are still some questions around reports over the past couple of weeks about people getting the vaccine and then getting blood clots. And in Europe, uh, you know, European medical authorities, regulators have taken a closer look at that and seeing that there wasn't any clear evidence of a link there it's always difficult vaccines because when you vaccinate a large number of people, tens or hundreds of thousands of people or more, some of them will have certain medical conditions that arise just by chance, not because they got the shot, but, but, uh, simply because those are things that happen to people. Um, so there's, no, they didn't say that there's no possibility of a link, but that there's no clear evidence of a link between the vaccine and blood clots. Uh, the, that, you know, in the U S trial about 30,000 people, including here in San Diego had know a company reported that the vaccine was also safe and also effective here, as you mentioned, 79% effective against people getting sick with COVID-19 and a hundred percent effective against severe disease. Speaker 3: 07:36 So ending up in the hospital, ending up in the ICU, or even dying from the coronavirus, all of the vaccines that are currently authorized, do a good job against fear disease. So Pfizer Madonna Johnson and Johnson's vaccine, and basically this announcement today sets the stage for AstraZeneca to apply for FDA authorizations, possibly in the coming days or about a week from now, once they actually submit that packet of information, the FDA will probably take a couple of weeks to review it and convene an independent panel of researchers to take a look at that data. And at that point recommend whether or not the agency, uh, authorized the vaccine. So I think we're talking potentially about a few weeks, maybe roughly three weeks until the vaccine could be authorized. And then the first doses could go out. Speaker 1: 08:26 I've been speaking with Jonathan Rosen, biotech reporter with the San Diego union Tribune. Jonathan, thank you.