Information provided by County of San Benito
In a Feb. 3 release, San Benito County stated that the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccination doses throughout California has led to prioritizing shots for older adults because of the virus’ high mortality rate within that group.
Because of this, San Benito County Public Health Services and collaborating health care partners are coordinating efforts to streamline vaccine distribution and move as quickly as possible to provide shots to the most vulnerable residents, those age 75 and older.
“Two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths in San Benito County are among residents age 75 or older,” said Dr. David Ghilarducci, San Benito County public health officer. “A vaccine offered to a resident above age 75 is 300 times more likely to save a life than a vaccine offered to someone under the age of 50.”
The state received a smaller supply of vaccine shipments this week, the release stated. Across all local health care jurisdictions, weekly dose allocations from the state—based on a formula designed to ensure fair distribution statewide—have slowed compared to shipments in December and early January. With the current pace of supply, it will take several weeks to offer a first dose to all older adults who would like to be vaccinated.
“There is an imbalance of supply, demand and expectation,” said Ghilarducci. “The demand for vaccine is high, which is good for the long-term health of our community, but the expectation that vaccines will be provided right now far outweighs the number of doses we’ve been given. The infrastructure for giving the vaccine is ready, we just need the supply.”
Limited vaccine supply throughout the state is resulting in a widespread inability to make new appointments. In addition, administering Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine requires a parallel effort to provide a second dose a few weeks after the first. The need for second doses limits the number of people who can be newly vaccinated each week.
To stretch vaccine availability, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidance on Jan. 21 to allow for second dose administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if the second dose cannot be scheduled in the recommended timeframe. The CDC states that the data from clinical trials support this range. “Modest delays in the administration of the second dose, if absolutely necessary, would not be expected to decrease the protection conferred by the second dose,” according to an FDA statement.
Despite these shortfalls, San Benito healthcare providers have vaccinated the majority of Phase 1A; healthcare workers and medical emergency responders. Phase 1A Tiers 1, 2 and 3 are on target for their second dose of the vaccine.
The release added a reminder for individuals who fall under Phase 1B to go to Covid-19 Vaccine Information – San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency (cosb.us) to complete an online COVID-19 vaccination interest form which will add them to a contact list. Individuals will then be informed about where they may obtain a vaccination as the phases and tiers progress. It is not a vaccination appointment; it is a tool to eventually schedule a vaccination appointment.