Despite California State Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement that residents aged 65 years and older are now eligible to receive the much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine, many areas in the state are having difficulty administering the treatment to patients.
On Wednesday, Newsom said that the age group could be vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus, hailing cheers from residents across California. The inoculation was, until recently, only available for health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents.
However, some county health officials quickly made announcements after Newsom’s speech, saying that not all people within the age range, who number around six million individuals, were immediately given access to the coronavirus vaccine.
“Expanding the list of who is eligible for the vaccine does not get us more doses. It does not get us more vaccinators, or any of the other resources we need to effectively run our operations,” the executive director of the Health Officers Association of California, Kat DeBurgh, said.
Before people aged 65 years and older are able to get vaccinated with the treatment, California officials have to acquire more doses and implement improved coordination and messaging.
What residents could expect to come with the next rollout of the vaccine is that the state has a very short supply of the treatment. There were more than 2.8 million doses that have been distributed to California as of Tuesday, but only about one-third have been administered.
The low numbers are due to the lower-than-expected demand from the medical sector, where nearly 40% of healthcare and nursing home workers declining the receive their first opportunities to receive the treatment.
Additionally, many counties do not have a sufficient supply of the coronavirus vaccine to inoculate all people within the age range. Santa Clara County officials said they would need more doses to vaccinate people aged 75 years and older. Despite requesting 100,000 doses of the vaccine, the region is only expected to receive a mere 6,000 doses, the county executive, Dr. Jeff Smith, said.
While more people are now eligible to be vaccinated, the priority list is still in effect, giving the first opportunity to healthcare workers. With many first responders and frontline workers waiting to be vaccinated, people aged 65 and older should expect to wait a little bit more before getting the chance to be inoculated.
“We’re not done without healthcare workers. We haven’t heard back from the state about vaccine availability and how it would be distributed,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Lastly, many counties are having difficulties in how to acquire more doses, hire more professionals who are qualified to administer the treatment, and facilities where patients could be inoculated, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The lack of space forced counties to use large areas such as the Dodger Stadium and Disneyland as mass vaccination sites to accommodate more people. There are also a few retail pharmacies and medical offices that have doses available.
Many expressed their concerns that people with underlying health conditions could be forgotten with how officials are focusing on age in the vaccination priority list. Others argued that it could also lead to some healthcare workers being left behind as more people are becoming eligible to receive their vaccine doses.