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County plans to vaccinate 1.9 million San Diegans by July

San Diego County residents 65 and older can now be vaccinated against COVID-19 – provided their healthcare provider has the doses.

But with vaccine demand far exceeding supply, that is likely to be a problem.

As it is, the county has struggled to vaccinate nursing home residents and health care workers who fall into the state’s highest priority vaccination. There are 620,000 people in this group and only about 80,000 have been inoculated, although county officials say this may be an underestimation.

On Wednesday, Gavin Newsom announced that Californians 65 and older are now eligible for vaccination ̵

1; a day after the federal government called on states to extend the entitlement. Older adults are especially vulnerable to coronavirus. About 15 percent of San Diego County residents age 80 and older who have received COVID-19 have died – more than one in seven.

But the state’s announcement is likely to trigger some confusion and frustration. Example: Scripps Health, one of the region’s two largest health systems, sent the following statement to its members on Wednesday:

“None of the San Diego hospitals have received vaccinations at this time to begin distribution to their patients, and we are waiting to hear from the government when they can expect them … At this time, do not call your Scripps- doctor’s office as they do not know when the vaccines will be available. ”

Alvarado Hospital in La Mesa and Paradise Valley Hospital in National City said they are studying the new guidelines but were not ready to announce changes. Other systems, including UC San Diego Health and Sharp HealthCare, did not respond immediately.

More than 473,000 San Diegans are 65 years of age or older. So far, the region has received 241,000 doses, according to the county’s latest data. And each person needs two vaccine doses for full immunity.

“We just do not want to create an expectation that all 65 and older will suddenly just roll in and get the vaccine,” Superintendent Nathan Fletcher said during the county’s Wednesday coronavirus briefing. “We can only administer vaccines we actually have.”

Currently, the county plans to continue using its doses to vaccinate health care professionals. The region’s largest vaccination site, located at the parking lot for the tailgate Petco Park, is on track to vaccinate 5,000 people a day at the end of the week. The plan is to create three more mass vaccination sites, including one launching in February in South Bay and sites in North County and East County.

In the week of Jan. 25, San Diego’s 65 and older should be able to be vaccinated at county counties, according to public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. Significant workers such as teachers, grocery workers and police officers could soon follow in February.

Officials also said San Diego County residents will soon be able to do what people living in Philadelphia, Ohio and other parts of the state can already do – sign up for warnings about when it’s their turn to be vaccinated , so they know when and where to get their shots. The county is working with the state’s public health department to roll out an enrollment system next week.

Vaccine supply will either make or break the county’s plans to inoculate nearly 1.9 million residents against COVID-19 by July 1 following an initially sluggish vaccine rollout.

To get there, the region must ramp up to an average of 23,400 shots a day over the next five months. Right now, San Diego County is at about 6,100 shots a day.

San Diego County COVID-19 vaccine plans

Fletcher also said the region plans to go from having four to 12 distribution points: smaller locations throughout the county where people eligible for a vaccine can get their shots if they do not have access through their health care provider.

The county plans to shell out up to $ 100 million to bankroll this effort, but hopes the state or federal government will eventually cover the cost.

“We’re taking a leap of faith,” Fletcher said. “We hold on to our receipts and hope the refunds come.”

Dr. Davey Smith, UCSD’s head of infectious disease, hopes some of that money goes to hiring the staff it will take to get guns shot throughout the county.

“We can not rely on volunteer staff forever,” Smith said. “We need real support and real infrastructure, and it’s going to cost people money for their time.”

As the pace of the pandemic shows no signs of abating, a vaccine is essential to stop the coronavirus. In Wednesday’s COVID-19 tracking report, the county reported 3,261 new positive cases among 14,636 overall test results at a positive rate of 22 percent, significantly greater than the two-week average positivity rate of 14.4 percent.

A further 54 deaths were reported on Wednesday, leaving the cumulative cost of human life only eight out of 2,000 shy.

Hospitals continued to run out of water, and the local census – the number of COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds combined – rose from 32 to 1,802 on Tuesday. It was the first time the daily number of COVID-19 patients exceeded 1,800.

Wednesday’s report included 162 new COVID-related admissions. Officials, however, said the total number included hospitalizations from previous days and thus did not represent a sudden increase in one day.

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