While roughly 2,000 San Diegans contract the coronavirus each, day medical experts worry that the vaccines that could help stop the rapid spread remain beyond reach.
“We need to immediately ramp up and roll out our vaccination campaigns,” said Dr. Edward Cachay, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego.
According to state public health officials, if our rollout remains the same, inoculations for people not currently on the priority list could be delayed for at least another four months.
Dr. Cachay says that timeline would prove to be detrimental, especially as our community begins to see more cases involving variant COVID-19 strains.
“One person infected with COVID-19 can easily infect from five to six [people] in a direct interaction,” said Dr. Cachay. “The increase of potential contagiousness with the new variant is that one person can now infect between eight to nine individuals at once.”
The current vaccination pace will only change with help from the federal government. According to public health data, roughly 140,000 people have been vaccinated in San Diego so far, and only about 20% of those who need their second dose have gotten it.
San Diego County's population is in the ballpark of 3.3 million.
The keyword here is patience, says Dr. Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, director of the San Diego State University Institute of Public Health.
“We have a lot of people aged 65 and older in this state and in order to get them vaccinated we need percolating efforts, and I think that the county of San Diego and other counties are setting the stage for those efforts,” said Dr. McDaniels-Davidson. “And I believe that we’re going to pick up the pace."
Dr. Cachay also points out a promising future in vaccine science.
“You need to remember that in early February we most likely are going to have a new vaccine and that will also open up more doses and availability for the people in need,” said Dr. Cachay.
The new vaccine Dr. Cachay is talking about is coming from Johnson & Johnson, which is set to submit clinical trial data in the next couple of weeks.
But even when vaccination efforts ramp up, it's going to take all of our efforts to make sure the majority of our population gets vaccinated.
“Early estimates back in the summertime said 60% of our population would have to be vaccinated in order to reach that level of community immunity,” said Dr. McDaniels-Davidson. “As we’ve understood the virus more, that number is likely 85-90%, maybe even more."
A daunting task as we seek a return to normalcy.