Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine opened Thursday to Californians 50 and older and expands to those 16 and older in several weeks. But while the expansion is welcome news to many, supply limitations are still a concern.
Getting an appointment for a vaccine dose hasn’t been easy for San Diegans and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher has cited lack of supply coming into the county as the major factor. But in recent weeks, he's been much more hopeful that that will soon change.
But some San Diegans are already frustrated with the difficult process they face to secure a vaccine appointment.
Scott Ellis, who sought to get vaccinated through volunteering, said none of his volunteer shifts ended up panning out and later, when he tried to sign up for a vaccine appointment, he wasn’t able to land one.
“I was really hoping there was some availability but there really wasn’t any availability I could find easily,” Ellis says. He told NBC 7 he finally turned to a Twitter bot to secure a vaccine appointment.
And as for those members who have a two-week window in April before eligibility expands to ages 16 and over, he worries the troubles he’s seeing now will manifest come April 15.
“So good that there’s eligibility opening up,” Ellis said. “In my mind, like cool, but there’s still going to be months and months before people can actually start getting vaccinated, right, because of the hassle of getting a vaccine appointment.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said supplies are “expected to increase significantly" in April. California is expected to receive 2.5 million doses a week in the first half of the month and more than 3 million a week in the second -- almost double than what was received in March.
Fletcher has said San Diego County's vaccination infrastructure is able to inoculate thousands more people a day than current numbers, once the supply flows in. But it is unclear how soon those numbers will ramp up.
Kaiser’s vaccine expert Dr. William Tseng says expanding eligibility further is a good thing that will inch us closer to a life past COVID-19.
“The sooner that we get people vaccinated, the sooner we can hit community immunity or herd immunity,” Dr. Tseng said.
No word yet on how things will play out come mid-April and if issues will persist, but Dr. Tseng said the frustrations people might be experiencing or will experience on the operation side in obtaining a vaccine will be worth it to get us vaccinated ahead of the variants.
“We’re not ready to take off the mask yet, we’re not ready yet to stop the social distancing,” Dr. Tseng said. “We want to get to that safe level where everyone is protected.”