Slow CA Vaccine Roll Out to Speed Up, Despite Continued Shortages


New York National Guard, Flickr, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Due to a manufacturing production issue, for the next two weeks, LA county will not be receiving any of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses. This is just one of the hurdles California has faced with their vaccine roll out.

Aubree Byrom, Journalist

Since the COVID vaccines have been released, there has been a delay in many areas. Some healthcare workers, elderly, and other people vulnerable to COVID have been eligible to get the vaccine, but have not because of the delay. On Monday, even more people will become eligible, creating a greater strain on the shortages.

One huge factor that added to this delay of vaccines is the winter storm that hit in February, slowing down vaccines meant for Bay Area places like Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Sonoma County, and many more. These chilling weather conditions have caused the Moderna vaccines to be re-routed. 

According to ABC 7 news, Santa Clara County, along with San Mateo County, was still waiting on thousands of Moderna vaccination shipments as of February 19th. They stated, “Santa Clara County is missing a whopping 31,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine that have been delayed by weather by Midwestern weather. [SIC] Another 15,000 doses could be potentially delayed if things don’t improve, the county said.” 

They also stated, “San Mateo County was expecting 14,200 Moderna doses — both first and second doses — to arrive this week, but they haven’t arrived yet. The county went forward with a vaccine clinic Friday at San Francisco International Airport, but had to switch from Moderna to Pfizer to make it happen.” 

This issue has still not been fully resolved. In March, weeks after the storm, Stanford Health Care was forced to cancel over 6,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties due to the continued shortage.

California has been very slow with the rollout in general. Back in February, CBSN stated that Los Angeles had to pause their vaccination sites because of the delay in vaccines due to the winter storms. Governor Gavin Newsom also stated, “There’s not enough vaccinations, there’s not enough doses.” 

“There’s not enough vaccines to accommodate the need and demand, just at this site (Long Beach Convention Center) they’re running about a third of capacity,” he said. “Sites all across the state of California are toggling back based upon limited supply. That’s a manufacturing issue. Manufactured supply in the United States of America is limited.” He also said that about 200,000 are being manufactured statewide daily. 

Not only that, but the new vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine, has also been delayed because of a manufacturing issue. This is going to result in tight vaccine supply in March. 

Barbara Ferrer told the Los Angeles Times, “So, again, I feel bad always asking everybody to be somewhat patient, because even though it is your turn, it’s still going to be hard to get appointments.” She also said that pretty soon, many people will be eligible to get the vaccine. Ferrer then suggested that people with conditions that may be critical contact their healthcare provider, and talk about possibly receiving the vaccine. 

People are finding problems with making appointments for these vaccines.  Many have been scheduled, but eventually moved to later dates.

Paula Petruschin, a teacher at UP stated, “My husband received his first vaccination shot and was told to come back in mid-February for his second dose, but he has been unable to make an appointment for it since there are no appointments available for the date he is supposed to return.” 

She then went on to say that she got in touch with her hospital, but was denied many times. She said, “I attempted to call the county health service office and when I finally got in touch with them, they gave me a number specifically for COVID. I attempted to call the number: 909-387-3911 several times in succession, and was only ever able to get the recording. Although the recording stated my wait time was 4 minutes, each time they hung up on me without ever answering my call. As I look back at my phone now, I called 6 times before getting frustrated and giving up.”

People who are lucky to get their appointments for the vaccine often find themselves with a long wait time and huge lines. 

Many people have been able to get the first dose of the vaccine, but getting the second dose has been a problem. Usually, you are recommended to get the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine within 21 days after your first dose and 28 days after the first dose for the Moderna. But according to Healthline, there is no need to worry. They said that 61 million people have received the first dose and of that only 31 million have received the second dose. Dr. Dean Blumberg stated in an interview with Healthline, “Ideally, people would get the vaccine on time, but if it is delayed, you don’t have to restart the vaccine series. We do know that one dose of vaccine results in about 90 percent protection in terms of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. That begins about 2 weeks following the first immunization.”  

Blumburg also said that the first dose is more important than the second dose. He explained that the first dose could have a huge impact on society but we should prioritize the more high risk people. He stated, “I think there needs to be a combination distribution to make sure those older individuals are fully protected as well as healthcare workers and essential workers.” 

If you cannot get your second dose to the vaccine, it is important to follow up with it and not just push it aside. Dr. William Scaffner stated, “We don’t want second doses dropped. There is an adage among the vaccine crowd that says a dose delayed is often a dose never received so it is important on the part of the individual who has been vaccinated and whose dose was delayed to do the follow-up.” He then later said, “Get your appointment. Get your second dose. Don’t put it off. Try to get it as close to the designated interval as possible. We want you to be optimally protected and for that, you do need a second dose.” He also told Healthline that whatever vaccine is available, is the best vaccine to get. 

Governor Newsom has also been reserving vaccines for teachers and school employees. According to the New York Times, he set out to save 10 percent of the first dose Covid-19 vaccine. They also stated, “The governor said he would set aside 75,000 doses each week for teachers and staff members planning to return to public school campuses in person. Although California prioritizes teachers for the vaccine, supply has been an issue.” Regarding the Victor Valley Union High School District, many teachers and school staff have been fortunate enough to get the vaccine.

UP teacher Summer Zimmerman stated she had no problems with the date she was scheduled to get the vaccine, and although there was a little wait time, it was nothing too big. She stated, “I received the vaccine on that date that I originally scheduled. It took about one and a half hours from the time that I got into the line to when I left the appointment.” She also said she was kept for 15 minutes after the vaccination to keep safe. 

One of the hindrances the vaccine roll out has faced is the pause on the 330,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine back in early January. The pause was caused by the concern of the side effects happening to people who got this vaccine, such as anaphylactic shock. Because of this, the Moderna vaccine went under investigation, which later proved the vaccine to be safe.

UP teacher Virginia Price stated that she got the vaccine. She told Listen UP that she researched up on the vaccine and felt good about getting it. She also told Listen UP, “I am allergic to some meds, but none that [were] in the vaccine. They kept me for 20 minutes after the vaccine.”

Although severe allergic reactions are rare, this vaccine is new. Experts have been keeping a close eye on these allergic reactions that different people have been having. To be safe, they have been keeping people who receive this vaccine for a few minutes after the shot. Healthline stated, “All the allergic reactions reported in San Diego occurred within the standard observation window of 15 to 30 minutes. Allergic reactions occur soon after vaccination. This is why people are advised to stay near the vaccination site for 15 minutes.” 

With the amount of people who are getting vaccines, it is reasonable for things to slow down with delays. But, according to Fox KTVU 2, they said they think the vaccine should turn into a surplus in the summertime. They also stated in an article published on March 11th, “California is expected to meet its goal of 2 million doses distributed among low-income zip codes by Friday, which will allow more counties to move to less restrictive tiers.”  

Governor Newsom seems to be very happy with the Biden Administration as well. He stated at the Southern California Vaccination Center, “I’m proud of the Biden administration for delivering on every single thing they said they would deliver on.” 

It is important to keep in mind that many people are planning on getting this vaccine. Although the rollout may be a little slow, it should improve in the future.

President Biden promised that there will be enough vaccines to fully vaccinate every American adult by the end of May. According to NPR, Moderna and Pfizer are at least on track to hit the milestone before that, which is supplying 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of March. A NPR analysis of data from the CDC’s vaccination tracker showed that distributions skyrocketed in the last two weeks, and if they can keep it up, they will meet the first mark. Despite other wrinkles that may arise, the March goal still looks likely.