Supply frustrations mount as eligibility expands for COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – Starting Thursday, anyone over the age of 50 is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, coming just ahead of when the local vaccination supply is expected to double.

But for those administering the vaccine, the current supply shortage is frustrating.

“Until we get a more stable supply, it’s going to be hard to meet the demand that’s coming,” said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, Scripps Health’s chief medical officer for acute care. “It’s still a big unknown to us. I just reached out to the county today to say, ‘Can you let us know what vaccines we’re going to get for next week?’ and they still don’t know yet.”  

That’s not the only issue. The state-run My Turn platform has been difficult for scheduling appointments and slow to make changes and notifying patients, she said.

“It’s not fast enough,” Sharief said. “Two weeks ago, we accidentally scheduled 1,800 people when we didn’t have vaccines for and then just yesterday they scheduled 800 extra patients that we didn’t have vaccines for.”

Next week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of California takes over the state’s distribution campaign. That, combined with more supply, might further streamline the process just in time for when eligibility expands again April 15 to those ages 16 and older.

“Right now, we get around 1.8 million,” Sharief said. “By the end of April, the hope is to get 3 million to the state. I don’t know what that means for the county.”

By some estimates, newly eligible people between the ages of 50 to 64 will add more than half a million people to the pool of those already searching for appointments.

San Diego County reported 290 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday increasing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 270,287. An updated death toll was not announced because of Cesar Chavez Day.

More than 1.73 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency and more than 1.64 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The Del Mar vaccination super station reopens Thursday and Friday for more vaccinations. The site, which has closed down several times in recent weeks, then closes again this weekend due to supply issues.

Churches across San Diego that serve predominantly Black congregations are expanding COVID-19 testing ahead of Easter celebrations this weekend, according to an announcement Wednesday by the African American Community Empowerment Council.

Testing at participating San Diego churches, supported by the county health department, Tabernacle Community Development Corp. and the empowerment council, will start Thursday and be free through June 30 and available regardless of insurance status.

More information about the testing effort is available at aacec- cal.org.

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