On the first day of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout in San Diego County, a line of people formed hoping to receive a dose leftover at the end of the day.
At the Balboa Municipal Gym site, San Diego city employees and volunteers administered second dose Pfizer vaccines and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
People with appointments were showing up and moving through the site smoothly, according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Monica Muñoz. She said it’s unclear how many extra dosages might be available because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has less strict storage requirements and can be re-shelved if unopened.
Retired San Diegan Nancy Nussbaum was one of several dozen waiting in line hoping for extras.
"Today’s the first day. My sister-in-law invited me to come with her and then she bailed when she saw the line," said Nussbaum. “I’ve heard that there’s a lot of people that don’t want the Johnson & Johnson so I thought maybe there would be no-shows, people that are skeptical or people that have signed up to go other places too."
While the storage logistics and the fact that it’s one dose make things easier to manage, several factors determine whether or not there will be any surplus.
Muñoz said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials, when opened, have to be used within two hours. But if some are leftover and can be offered, the extras doses go to those in line who are vaccine eligible, then to those who aren't.
“It’s not just the amount of doses that we have, it’s also the capacity we have to put shots in people's arms," Muñoz said. “So it varies between brands as far as the amount of time that we have to use those doses and the storage capability.”
Nick Tolunay was waiting till the end of day too, even though he’s slightly uneasy about the vaccine's long-term side effects and the stories he's heard about the appointment process.
“They can’t actually know how many leftover vaccines there will be so it’s kind of like hopeless to stay here. We just thought we’d come here and give it a shot,” said Tolunay.
It’s all worth taking the chance for the people who chose to wait in line Tuesday.
“If I get the shot then as things open up I’ll be able to go out and enjoy things with everybody,” said Nussbaum.