California counties say they need more COVID-19 vaccine doses

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Posted at 10:40 AM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 13:40:21-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California public health officials say there are not enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to go around to those currently eligible to receive one.

Across the state, providers say they've got the infrastructure in place, but need doses to distribute.

"I was excited to get it," said UC San Diego Health emergency room nurse David Flores. "I was looking forward to getting it."

Flores is one of the few people in the state who has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I really want this vaccine to be given to as many people can take it as possible," he said.

That's also the way Lynn Daniels feels. She got a shot earlier this week.

"I asked the guy could I have a Snoopy Band-Aid or something, and he said, 'Well, I can give you an orange button that says I've had my COVID-19 vaccine,'" Daniels said.

According to the state, as of Wednesday, 1,525,816 vaccines have been administered.

The state's COVID-19 vaccine website says so far, California has ordered 4,112,400 doses of the vaccine. The data shows that 3,750,025 doses had been shipped to local health departments, health systems, and state agency entities.

Health providers say that's nowhere near enough to take care of the nearly 40 million people who live in California.

"I join my colleagues in other jurisdictions in saying whatever we have is simply not enough,” said Santa Barbara County Director of Public Health Dr. Van Do-Reynoso. "We have built the infrastructure, we've built the partnerships, and we are ready to give vaccines to our community members."

With counties across the state running out of vaccine doses and many not knowing when more are on the way, Do-Reynoso says most counties seem to be facing the same challenge.

"We are consistent with a lot of other counties," Do-Reynoso said. "There simply isn’t enough vaccines."

So how do counties get doses?

Health officials in San Diego County say, "Doses are allocated based on population. San Diego County, like all the counties in the state, receives its allocation proportionate to the number of residents and the number of doses available for allocation. The County is in touch with CDPH several times a day, and we continue to ask for more vaccine. Also note that there are many ways the vaccine is coming into the County, including going directly to many hospital systems and pharmacies. It is also being given by the Department of Defense to San Diego's large military population. The County is the safety net and also will make vaccine available to all of those eligible who are unable to get it from their healthcare provider."

While the population is a factor, California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly described a process that's much more complex using Tier 1A as an example, which includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents.

"Remember when we were in 1A looking at healthcare providers and individuals in congregate care facilities, the allocations we're looking at, the proportion in the state of those individuals in each county," said Ghaly. "So, if you're a county that happens to have a regional hospital that draws from other counties, a bunch of the main health facilities there, an overrepresentation of skilled nursing facilities and other congregate-care facilities, you might have seen a higher proportion of doses going to that County based on that allocation priority given where we are in the phases and tiers. As that shifts to beyond that 1A group into the 65 and older, you will see those allocations shifting bit by bit. We know overall the percentage going to the counties and the percentage going to the multi-county entities, the big healthcare delivery systems that are getting direct allocations has been stable over time up until now. That will shift as the focus on who should be vaccinated changes."

Dr. Ghaly says the complexities of the vaccine rollout are real, and there are other tools the state uses.

As far as when the state will get more doses — that's a process all in itself.

According to the California Department of Public Health, "Once a week, the federal government announces anticipated allocation figures for each state. The number of allocated doses provided by the federal government is a projection and subject to change. Local California providers are required to place their orders, which are reviewed by the state and submitted to the federal government. The federal government then authorizes the order and submits the request to the manufacturer. The manufacturer or central distributor ships the vaccine directly to the local California provider. It can take a week or longer between when doses are allocated by the federal government to when they arrive at public health offices or providers and are ready for administration."