Vaccine Demand Down In San Diego County
Speaker 1: 00:00 Gone are the days of long lines, internet delays, and supply shortages for the coronavirus vaccine demand in San Diego County is down. Supply is so abundant. Healthcare systems are asking for less doses. So is this an indication we are winning this fight against COVID-19 and close to herd immunity? Or does this mean there is much more work to do in terms of getting people vaccinated? Jonathan Rosen, who is the San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter has been covering this and joins us now, Jonathan, welcome. Speaker 2: 00:32 Thanks for having me Speaker 1: 00:34 In your recent report, Dr. Marlene Millen, who led vaccination efforts at UCS said we are in the hand to hand combat phase of vaccination. What is meant by that? Speaker 2: 00:45 So I think what Marlene was saying is that if you think back to January, you think back to February, there were so many people who wanted a vaccine who couldn't get one and the moment they became eligible, they were lining up outside Petco. They were lining up outside of pharmacies, looking for extra doses showing up early in the morning, late at night, I was getting emails from a lot of readers. Uh, some of whom were stuck in traffic trying to get to a vaccine site and wanted to know exactly when and where they could get their shot. A lot of those people have now gotten their shots and they've been vaccinated for some time. And so now we're moving into a phase where the people who haven't been vaccinated may be a little on the fence. They may feel that it's too inconvenient to go to a vaccine site outside the neighborhood, away from where they work. They may have some serious questions about the vaccines and about the virus. So now we're moving to a phase where there's this smaller group of people who aren't as eager, aren't as motivated to get vaccinated, but who still need to get their shots. If as a community, we're going to really slow the spread of the virus to the point that it needs to be for. Long-term getting back to normal life. Speaker 1: 01:58 How far have the numbers of people getting their first shot decline? Speaker 2: 02:02 So we don't have data at the County level for that. We've asked for that from the County and haven't gotten a jest yet, but in a general way, we can look at the UCS D numbers in terms of first doses, which are people who haven't been vaccinated are now beginning that process. Uh, as few as a few hundred first doses a day, a second dose numbers are still pretty high at UC San Diego. A lot of people who got the first shot are still coming back for the second, but the number of people deciding to get vaccinated now seems to be going down a bit that that could change pretty soon. Once kids 12 through 15 become eligible, and that could happen by this Wednesday afternoon, but for the moment, demand has definitely gotten much lower. We can see data supporting that. Speaker 1: 02:47 You spoke with Dr. Suzanne Afflalo, who organized vaccination clinics that mainly targeted communities of color demanded. Those clinics dropped drastically too. Why is that? Well it's for the same Speaker 2: 03:00 Reasons, you know, in the beginning, uh, Dr. [inaudible] was talking about really focusing on creating vaccine sites in parts of the community where a lot of black and Latino San Diego serve already going community centers, you know, local YMCAs churches, places that are familiar, and basically being able to create that infrastructure and have people show up in those settings, uh, holding town halls, essentially with the County and with other trusted messengers in the black community. So a lot of the folks who simply wanted a place to go and maybe had a couple of questions, but weren't necessarily vaccine skeptics per se. Uh, they've been vaccinated too. So it's not just a matter of the big healthcare systems, seeing the slowdown, we're seeing it at, at the community at the grassroots level. And what she expressed to me is that there's a real need now to have smaller conversations, maybe not one-on-one, but you know, smaller, more intimate conversations with people about, uh, the questions they have around the vaccines. And it's no longer just a matter of creating these sites in the community, but then going out and really answering specific questions that each person has. Speaker 1: 04:12 Right. I mean, and where are we at w within various communities? I mean, in the communities of color that were hardest hit, for example, is this an indication that outreach efforts and those communities that were not being reached when this pandemic started and that were being hit hardest, worked, or is there still a lot of work to do in terms of getting people vaccinated at this point? Speaker 2: 04:35 Well, I think we've seen a lot of progress in the South region in South County. Their vaccination rates have been pretty strong, especially among older San Diego ones. And at this point more broadly as well, where we're still seeing numbers lag a little bit is actually in East County. So generally more conservative region of San Diego County. And that's something that we have, uh, one of my colleagues is looking into right now and where the messaging around the vaccines and around the virus has been mixed in terms of the value of the vaccines, what you can do before and after you're vaccinated. So I think particularly in East County where there hasn't been as concerted of an effort to have trusted messengers, to make vaccines accessible and to get information out there, uh, we're still seeing a little more of a slowdown there than we are in the South region right now. Speaker 1: 05:26 Do you have a sense of what it will take then to convince the rest of the population who can get vaccinated to go ahead and do so? Speaker 2: 05:34 Yeah, that's a good question. Especially considering that as big as the numbers might appear when it comes to how many San Diego has been vaccinated, we're, we're not there yet. So to put it in perspective, the county's goal is to have about 2 million residents fully vaccinated by July. Right now, we're at about 1.27 million. So that leaves around 700 plus thousand San Diego who haven't been fully vaccinated yet. Some of them will be because I've gotten shot one just needs to get shot too. But clearly we're not at that point of herd immunity, even though the COVID numbers daily are relatively low, they're not as low as they need to be. As we keep hearing, you know, I've, I, I talked for this most recent story with, uh, on a mirror who studies human behavior and decision-making at the Rady school of business and management. And what he said, which was kind of interesting was really the, at this point, it may not necessarily be a matter of getting the information, getting stats, getting the facts out there to people because the pandemic's been going on for a while and those numbers have been out there for awhile. Speaker 2: 06:42 Uh, but it might be more about creating a system where you have clear incentives and you're communicating those incentives to the people who haven't been vaccinated. So if it's more of an argument of get vaccinated, because you'll be able to do X, Y, and Z, you'll be able to go, you know, dining and restaurants, you'd be able to get together with, with family and friends. So I think that that type of messaging that's needed, uh, needs to be different, especially since the people who haven't been vaccinated are generally a younger group. So if we're talking about people who are 1820, 25, you know, COVID outcomes tend to be pretty different than if you're 80 years old, where we had data showing that about one out of every seven San Diego, ans 80 plus who got COVID actually passed away from it. So, you know, explaining, uh, the impact of long-term, COVID explaining the fact that some young people still can get really sick, but then also making the case that this is going to be the way that you can get back to all the normal things in terms of getting together with friends and family and going to concerts, uh, that might be the different messaging it's needed right now. Speaker 3: 07:48 I've been speaking with Jonathan Rosen, the San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter, Jonathan, thank you so much for joining us.