San Diego Relying On Increased Vaccine Supply as Eligibility Pool Widens

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Thousands more San Diegans are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine under new Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

The latest phase includes people 16 and older with specific medical conditions including hypertension and Type 1 diabetes, or who are overweight.

While the CDC recommends the vaccine for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40, San Diego County's BMI criteria is 25, which is considered slightly overweight.

Some wonder if supply can keep up with this new demand. Also, if people do not have to provide they’re eligible, some wonder if their neighbors will adhere to an honor system.

Dr. Saima Aslam, MBBS., an infectious disease specialist and professor at UC San Diego, said casting a wider net is a good thing considering increased supply is expected.

“I think we have definitely gone through the people that have desperately needed vaccines and now we’re getting to the people we think would really benefit,” said Dr. Aslam.

While previous eligibility tiers focused on age and occupation, vaccine hopefuls had to prove they qualified by showing identification and proof of employment. Now, that's not quite the case.

There is no burden of proof under the new recommendations. For example, someone considered overweight will not have to provide a doctor’s note proving their BMI as 25 or higher.

If you fall under any of the eligible categories, you sign up, show up and get a shot.

California COVID-19 Vaccinations

The map tracks the number of doses administered by a recipient's county of residence according to the The California Department of Public Health.

Source: The statewide totals for doses administered reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Otherwise we used data from the California Department of Public Health
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

San Diegan Leticia Ciccati, a mother of two, is now eligible and just made her appointment.

“I think more people are probably overweight than they probably realize when you pull up that BMI chart. A lot of time as Americans we don’t have the best diets. We celebrate with a lot of food,” said Ciccati.

Aslam said there are open appointment slots and supply should not be a problem. Thursday, local leaders said they hope to have an increased supply to keep up with the growing pool of eligible people.

Aslam said she thinks most people will follow the honor system. Getting an appointment smoothly is another story because of the lack of supply, for now.

Without an increase in supply, it will be challenging to meet the May 1 deadline for all adults to have access to the vaccines, established by President Joe Biden last week.

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