Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a confusing maze for many CA seniors; largely depends on luck

For many Bay Area seniors, getting a place in line has been a highly confusing process that often starts with false hope and leads to a dead end.
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- California's top public health officials now predict it could take six months to vaccinate most of the state's population that is age 65 and over, given the current supply shortages.

Those who are getting the coronavirus vaccine are left to navigate a haphazard system to try to secure a coveted appointment.

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For seniors like Leon Sloan, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is like winning a prize that could save their lives.

"What a great day!" shouted the masked Sloan just after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Sloan was among seniors at a Martinez mobile clinic, a partnership between Contra Costa Health Services and non-profit Choice in Aging.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, a long line snaked around an entire building - full of healthcare workers and seniors who happen to be able and quick enough to grab an online appointment, before they all filled up.

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Frustration and confusion continue over the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for the high-risk residents of long-term care facilities in California, and throughout the U.S.

For many other Bay Area seniors, getting a place in line has been a highly confusing process that often starts with false hope and leads to a dead end.

"My hope is that John Muir and Kaiser and these big health entities will step up and try and help problem solve through these folks," said Debbie Toth, CEO of Pleasant Hill-based Choice in Aging.

Despite Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement last week that all over 65 are now eligible for the vaccine, California officials announced yesterday they don't expect to vaccinate most people in that age group before June.

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In fact, most healthcare systems, like Kaiser Permanente and John Muir Health have had to hold the line at age 75, due to limited supply.

"When we look at those over 75, given the demand, the supply and demand are relatively matched," explained John Muir's Dr. Nick Mickas. "When we get to the opportunity we'll broaden to patients over 65."

Like they did for their front line workers, John Muir Health will launch two vaccine clinics for seniors starting Monday.

John Muir Health is hoping to expand their vaccine program to its patients over 65 sometime in February.

That is, if there's enough supply.

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