SAN JOSE, Calif. -- California is just days away from expanding vaccine eligibility on April 1 to residents ages 50 and up, but appointments will remain hard to come by until production ramps up and more vaccine is delivered to the state from federal authorities.
"We want people to keep checking, and that's the idea, you really have to keep checking," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County's COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer.
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Fenstersheib added, "We do have the capacity to vaccinate all those people. We just need the vaccine. That's totally out of our control, but (we) are promised that the vaccine will arrive in April."
Counties and healthcare systems that get their allocation directly from the state are typically notified on Wednesdays about what they can expect to receive the following week. As a result, some officials say new appointments are more likely to be posted closer to the middle or the end of the work week once providers have had a chance to analyze the numbers.
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Residents who receive their healthcare through a major system such as Stanford, Sutter or Kaiser are encouraged to pay close attention to notifications through their patient portals. Retail pharmacy partners are also offering the vaccine in select locations.
"We're all very eager to become vaccinated and to start socializing with friends and family soon," said Dr. Megan Mahoney, Stanford Health Care chief of staff. "But I also appreciate maintaining vigilance around the virus, continued mask usage and maintaining social distancing measures."
County officials are moving forward with public-private partnerships to ensure equitable access in the coming months. For example, Bloom Energy led an effort to raise nearly $200,000 to buy a mobile unit that'll help bring vaccinations to housebound, elderly, and other residents in underserved areas.
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"The speed of business saves lives as does the speed of government," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. "When we work together, we make changes that no one can imagine."
California opens up vaccine eligibility to all residents ages 16 and up on April 15.
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