Rare vaccines, system overwhelmed by newly eligible residents – Deadline

“I anticipate that we will be overwhelmed this first week, but hopefully it will calm down a bit later. But even with a very significant increase in vaccine supply, we estimate it will take a few more months, ”Los Angeles County Scientific Director Dr Paul Simon said on Friday.

Simon was talking about this week’s massive expansion – Thursday – in vaccine eligibility to all adults over 50. Previously, the approved group included only essential workers and people over 16 with co-morbidities.

The expansion comes on the order of Governor Gavin Newsom, who announced Thursday that eligibility for those 50 and over would begin on April 1. Newsom later promised that all Californians over 16 would become eligible on April 15. Only Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in people under the age of 18, so people between the ages of 16 and 17 should make sure to make an appointment at a Pfizer vaccination site.

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Based on current estimates, California plans to allocate approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week during the first half of April and over 3 million doses during the second half of April. . California currently receives about 1.8 million doses per week. These estimates can be adjusted over time. The state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week and is building the capacity to administer 4 million vaccines per week by the end of April.

While state officials appear confident in increasing supplies, local experts are less optimistic. “We look forward to this expansion, but its success depends on the vaccine supply,” Simon said on Friday.

While President Biden said on Monday that 33 million doses of the vaccine would be available this week, the federal supply has not always been distributed to local communities in California.

The last time the governor announced a major expansion in vaccine eligibility was on March 15, when he ordered appointments for the Covid-19 vaccine to be accessible to people aged 16 to 65. years old with an underlying health problem. This group includes 4.4 million Californians, the majority of whom probably have not yet been vaccinated.

The timing of this expansion was problematic. It coincided directly with what a state official involved with California’s third-party vaccine administrator – Blue Shield – called a “really tough” time. That’s because Newsom dramatically expanded access just as the state had a static week-to-week vaccine count.

Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich predicted a scarcity of nominations on Monday.

“Immediately on day one, there probably won’t be availability for everyone, just because … when you make millions of people eligible overnight, there aren’t millions of appointments. you immediately available at that time “, Markovich told CalMatters in an interview. “But I would say when we get to the end of April, or possibly early May, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Simon estimated that LA County will see 338,000 doses of the vaccine this week, which is a 21% increase. “I think it’s the highest number we’ve ever received,” said Simon. He also indicated that, for the first time in weeks, the county will receive some of Johnson & Johnson’s single doses. But LA needs more.

“There will undoubtedly be 800,000 to 1 million additional people [who] will become eligible and will never have received the vaccine, ”continued Simon. “It can be difficult to get the vaccine immediately. We certainly can’t handle an additional million people on top of all the other people currently eligible. I urge people to be patient. If they are unable to get an appointment immediately, they should be able to do so as vaccine stocks increase in the coming weeks.

These numbers are a bit of a mystery to county officials. While Biden has promised to provide local officials with a three-week window of estimates from which to plan, those numbers appear to be stuck at the state level. Newsom frequently cites such projections, but they are not analyzed and communicated to county officials. Asked by Deadline about these ongoing issues, Dr Simon said on Friday that they persisted: “Our window continues to be weekly for the most part.”

As of Monday morning, LA County residents over the age of 50 were still unable to make an appointment at the MyTurn site administered by Blue Shield or at certain CVS pharmacies. It would also seem to indicate that there will be a rush for nominations on April 1.

Officials in other parts of the state were also concerned about capacity. Sacramento area health providers have already lived problems getting enough doses for those who want dates. They expect those shortages to worsen on Thursday and even more severe on April 15.

One person over 50 who likely won’t have a problem getting a date on Thursday is Gavin Newsom, 53 himself. While the governor has refused to jump the line, he will become eligible this week and says he plans to be vaccinated.

“I can’t wait to get the best vaccine – and the best vaccine is the next one available,” Newsom said.

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