'It's pretty messed up': Frustrated Kaiser members look outside provider for COVID-19 vaccines

"I can't tell you how many calls I've gotten that Kaiser is not scheduling these appointments," said the CEO of a California non-profit that's helping thousands of seniors get vaccinated.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The state's largest single health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, is lagging well behind other systems when it comes to vaccinating even their oldest and most vulnerable patients.

Our sister station, KGO-TV, has heard from many Kaiser patients in their 80s even, who have yet to secure an appointment

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"My Mom's been calling Kaiser every day and it's by 'invitation' only," said Sheela Ivlev.

Her father is 85 and has several serious health conditions.

"It's pretty messed up and I don't think everyone who is eligible is even able to sign up, they're not getting the invitation," said Ivlev.

"I can't tell you how many calls I've gotten that Kaiser is not scheduling these appointments," said Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging, an East Bay non-profit that's helping thousands of seniors get vaccinated.

VIDEO: At current supply rate, it would take Kaiser 4+ years to get enough vaccines for all CA patients
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If the current rate continues, it would take roughly 216 weeks -- or just over 4 years -- to have enough of the first dose for all of Kaiser's California patients.

"In this older adult population, they trust their physician and they say 'My physician is at Kaiser,'" explained Toth. "So even if I, Debbie, say 'Hey, you need to enroll in the county system.' They're saying 'well I really feel like I need to wait for my physician.'"

A Kaiser Permanente spokesperson says the system simply does not have enough vaccine yet.

"Kaiser Permanente serves 25% of the state's population, but received less than 10% of the state's vaccine since December," said the spokesperson. "We understand and apologize for the frustration some of our members have encountered with availability of vaccine appointments."

RELATED: Vaccine distribution not equitable for Blacks, Latinos in California, preliminary data shows

Kaiser claims the system has been administering or scheduling appointments for 90% of the vaccine received so far, and once supply ramps up, will be able to administer 200,000 vaccines per week.

Sheela Ivlev told us, even once she managed to get her parents a vaccine appointment here at Kaiser Oakland, their ordeal wasn't over."

"They stood outside, with no cover, nowhere to sit for two and a half hours after their appointment time, before they could even go in for their vaccine," said Ivlev.

She does take comfort in knowing Kaiser has already scheduled her parents for their second dose of the vaccine next month.

With increased state allocations in the coming weeks, Kaiser now expects to make vaccines available to all 270,000 of its members over age 75 by the end of the month.
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