Vaccines galore but some Californians are struggling to get one – NBC Bay Area

Hearing an excess of vaccine and unfilled appointments frustrates Dr Aaron Roland, a family doctor who is pushing for doses to immunize his patients, many of whom are low-income, immigrant or elderly.

The San Francisco Bay Area doctor has more than 200 patients who have asked when he would offer vaccines for the coronavirus. A 67-year-old patient said he walked into a Safeway supermarket because signs said doses were available.

“But they said, ‘Oh no, they’re not really available. All you need to do is log in online, just register online. It’s not something he does very easily, ”said Dr Roland, whose practice is in Burlingame, south of San Francisco.

California, which is swimming in the vaccine, is in much better shape than just a few weeks ago, when marking a date was cause for celebration. Today, Los Angeles, San Diego and other populated counties are announcing that anyone can come in for a photo, and the state is texting a reminder that there are plenty of dates available. Rural Humboldt County even cut an additional 1,000 doses last week due to poor demand.

More than 18 million of the estimated 32 million people eligible for the vaccine in California are fully or partially vaccinated, including nearly half of people living in economically vulnerable zip codes hardest hit by the pandemic and 73% of residents aged 65 and more. The country’s most populous state, like much of the United States, appears to have reached a vaccine plateau.

Declining demand for vaccines illustrates the challenge the United States faces in trying to beat the pandemic, even as other countries are in the midst of full-blown medical emergencies and short of vaccines.

But that doesn’t mean everyone in California who wants a vaccine can get one – as some of Dr. Roland’s patients can attest.

Marlies Mokhtarzadeh was turned away from a downtown Millbrae pharmacy offering the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by a clerk who told her to make an appointment online.

But 80-year-old Mokhtarzadeh is unable to do so and his granddaughters have not made an appointment with him either. She’s exhausted from repeated attempts to get a cleft through a toll-free number, so she’ll wait for Dr. Roland, her doctor for three decades, to receive the vaccine instead.

“I’m not a young girl, she said. “I’m trying to find someone who will give me the shot and they have it at the Walgreens in Millbrae and I don’t know why they won’t give me the shot.”

In the future, it will take more effort to reach the unvaccinated, health experts say. The group includes people who are unable to leave their homes or who cannot be absent from work; for some, a vaccination may not be a priority, or they may have questions that cannot be answered when making an online vaccination appointment.

“We want to reach everyone, and what happens at this point in the process is that each person that we are trying to reach becomes a little harder to reach,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, incumbent. from the Chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California. San Francisco. “It’s not as easy as setting up a mass vaccination site and saying if you build it, they will come.”

Counties, cities and providers across the country are turning to paramedics to deliver vaccines to homes or arrange transport to vaccination sites, even offering incentives to try to reach as many people as possible. Like California, many states also have more doses than guns to put them in.

Families Together in Orange County, a community health center where more than half of patients are Latinos, is reaching malls, supermarkets, restaurants and schools, CEO Alexander Rossel said.

Marin is one of the counties that is gradually moving away from mass vaccination sites in favor of smaller mobile clinics. Santa Cruz County has re-launched a medical “strike team” to reach people who need home vaccinations.

But finding out who needs help and where they live is not easy. “There isn’t a big list of them,” said Jason Hoppin, a county spokesperson.

State officials are expected to release more guidance on home vaccinations soon to get more people vaccinated as it pushes to add providers to its list. Insurer Blue Shield resumed state administration of the vaccine on March 31.

Dr Roland’s office was cleared to vaccinate patients against COVID-19 at the end of February, but was unable to get vaccinated from San Mateo County or Blue Shield. County spokesman Preston Merchant said with limited supplies suppliers must get it from Blue Shield.

Those caring for their 96-year-old mother, who was vaccinated elsewhere, and the grandmother of a severely disabled adult are among those asking Roland to be vaccinated. They are not computer literate, and he can hardly tell them to keep checking the many drugstore, hospital, county and state websites that offer appointments.

“It’s good to have a lot of different channels,” he said. “But one of the places where it would be good to get vaccinated is where their doctor is”,

As the state shifts from a lack of vaccine supply to diminishing demand, family physicians are important in helping people overcome reluctance. Doctors who have a relationship with their patients are more confident than an anonymous person providing an injection, said Anthony York, spokesperson for the California Medical Association.

Dr Kim Rhoads, cancer researcher at UCSF and director of Umoja Health, a pop-up testing and vaccination group targeting African Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area, said he It was essential that the government continue to fund small community organizations that know where to go. as convenience stores, neighborhood hangouts, and other gathering places.

“If things don’t go over there,” she said, “we’re going to miss the opportunity to put a cap on this pandemic.”


Associated Press writer Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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