Last month we shared a few analog ways that seniors could schedule their vaccine appointments in our post “How Do Seniors Make Vaccination Appointments in San Diego?” Despite the climbing total of San Diegans who have received at least one vaccine dose – 839,214 as of March 24 – vaccinations to eligible residents has stalled recently. There are a couple of obstacles unvaccinated seniors, the elderly in home care and caregivers in San Diego must work around right now to get their COVID-19 vaccination.
- One of the most exciting analog options for seniors is the County’s initiative to schedule vaccine appointments for homebound seniors via 2-1-1. NBC News 7 shared the story of one homebound senior whose family and caregivers spent several weeks trying to schedule a vaccine appointment for him through 2-1-1. Fortunately, the query from the news team prompted an immediate response and home visit. However, NBC 7’s website reports that “County Chair of the Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher acknowledged on Thursday, that Gary Pusey is not alone. ‘This program has been challenged,’ he said. “There are a lot of difficulties involved both because these individuals have underlying health conditions and so the teams have to stay on-site much longer.’ Fletcher said other challenges including the transport of the vaccine due to storage and availability. ‘It often takes more than an hour to do one individual,’ he said.” Happily, Sharp Healthcare has deployed teams to join the firefighters and the county’s other mobile teams to bring the vaccine to seniors in home care in San Diego, and the program is getting back on track.
- Earlier in March, many seniors reported that the appointments they had scheduled to receive their second shots had been abruptly cancelled, with no option to reschedule offered. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require two doses with recommended intervals for the second shot of 21 days and 28 days respectively. San Diego seniors whose second shots were scheduled for the appropriate interval found themselves without a shot and without a way to confirm a new appointment. Manufacturers fell behind their promised ship dates, ferocious weather delayed shipments en route, and San Diego vaccine super-centers like Del Mar Fairgrounds closed briefly for lack of inventory. Appointments are still difficult to get. The CDC does advise that the second shot is effective no more than four days earlier than recommended and up to 42 days after the first shot. The best advice for seniors and caregivers is to actively look for an open appointment for the second shot, without waiting for the place that gave the first shot to initiate contact. We shared a list of the many scheduling resources available in our February 25th post post “How Do Seniors Make Vaccination Appointments in San Diego.”
- The good news for San Diegans and all Americans is that the supply of vaccine available is going to increase significantly in the next several weeks. CNBC reports that both Pfizer and Moderna expect to meet their total dose delivery targets by July, now that the raw material shortages and manufacturing issues that delayed shipments have been resolved. Johnson & Johnson expects to ship 20 million of its single dose vaccines by the end of March, and the FDA is reviewing vaccines from other manufacturers for approved use in the United States.
The good news for seniors, especially those in San Diego home care, is that people over age 65 who need their first or second dose are still at the top of the appointment priority list. The VaccinateCA website is updated every day with a list of places that have available shots and appointments, along with who they serve. For example, one downtown San Diego location is currently only scheduling second shots and only for those 65 and up. Scheduling a second dose may take a little legwork but the result it worth it.