Because of low and unpredictable vaccine supply from the state, Santa Clara County has transferred thousands of appointments, county officials said Wednesday.
About 8,500 appointments for Kaiser Permanente patients scheduled through the county between Thursday and March 21 will be transferred to Kaiser to reschedule.
The reason for the transfer is because the state has “assured” Kaiser that it will have sufficient vaccine for its members, whereas the county received “no such commitment” for residents uninsured and vulnerable, county officials said.
Despite getting an additional allocation of 7,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the county only received 3,000 more doses than it did last week. That is because the county received 1,400 less Moderna shots and 3,510 less Pfizer vaccines than it had the week before, according to county data.
But this is not because the state has gotten less Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. On the contrary, the state received 29,900 more Moderna shots and 40,950 more Pfizer shots.
The state has allocated 40 percent of vaccines to be targeted to 400 lower-income ZIP codes in the state, but no ZIP codes have been identified in Santa Clara County — which may explain why its allocations were lower this week, County Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said at Tuesday’s county Board of Supervisors meeting.
“We are not included in that [400 ZIP codes] so again our equity efforts are jeopardized with the insufficient vaccines and the focus that the state has on everywhere else but us,” Fenstersheib said.
At a news conference last week, Supervisor Cindy Chavez said the state needed to “treat all [counties] fairly,” noting the high and disproportionate COVID-19 positivity rates in East San Jose and South County.
The county has the capacity to inoculate 12,000 to 15,000 people a day, but supply constraints allow the county to give 8,000 shots daily, Fenstersheib said.
All the people transferred are Kaiser members under the age of 75, according to the county’s public health department.
The public health department also noted that Kaiser will priorities scheduling vaccine appointments through its system for those patients being transferred.
“The decision to transfer these patients back to Kaiser for their vaccine appointments was made after careful consideration of the available options,” the public health department said in a statement. “This transfer of appointments will prevent additional cancellations of vaccination clinics and appointments.”
As of Wednesday, the county has not canceled any appointments because of vaccine supply, it has only transferred those 8,500 Kaiser patients, according to the county’s emergency operations center.
The county maintains that its main priority in terms of inoculation is to ensure vaccine access for communities most impacted by COVID-19.