California COVID-19 vaccine supply hits new low leading to appointment backlog

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California's COVID-19 vaccine supply is hitting a new low as counties and providers work to get vaccinate those at high-risk.

Members of Kaiser Permanente and Stanford Healthcare tell ABC7 they're struggling to get appointments, despite meeting qualifications.

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"It's a mess," said Margaret Elmer, a Walnut Creek resident.

The big problem continues to be demand is far outweighing supply.

In Northern California, Kaiser has more than 270,000 members older than 75, but the healthcare system is only receiving an average of 25,000 doses per week, according to staff. That's only enough to cover 9 percent of the Northern California population eligible to receive it.

"I contacted Kaiser, sat on the phone for 45 min," said George Colacicco, a Kaiser member.

Colacicco has been trying for two weeks to get an appointment for his 72-year-old wife. He spoke to a nurse Friday about the appointment backlog.

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"She was pretty blunt about it. We don't have enough," said Colacicco, referring to doses. "We'll notify you when we have it in there."

Kaiser sent ABC7 the following statement:

"The very limited supply of vaccine California is receiving from the federal government is what's limiting appointments. We are receiving a small supply of vaccine in comparison to our membership. We have only received enough doses to vaccinate 4.5% of our California members."

Colacicco suggested his wife try through her coverage with Stanford Healthcare.

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Since the coronavirus started spreading across the globe in late 2019, scientists have been looking for a vaccine. Now that vaccines are proven, it will ultimately be up to each state to determine who will get the vaccine, and when?

"They told her, no we can't administer the vaccine to you unless you are a patient or an existing patient," he said. "So she called around very frustrated and was unable to secure an appointment."

According to Stanford Healthcare's website patients can schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine:

  • If they have received care at Stanford Health Care at least once in the last three years

  • Aged 65+

  • Live in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, or Santa Clara County

Cynthia Rodriguez has been trying to get her 88-year-old mother vaccinated in San Francisco for the past two weeks.

"We keep hearing, we're completely full no appointments available through 2021," she said.

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Stephanie: "How many times have you been redirected for information?"

Cynthia: "1, 2, 3, 4... 5 times."

After trying through the county and her private provider, Rodriguez was told to take her mother to a pharmacy.

"So I called her local Walgreens and they told they won't have any vaccines until April, maybe later."

Margaret Elmer was told the same.

"I spent four and a half hours waiting on the line with Contra Costa Public Health," she said.

Elmer was confused as the rules have kept changing.

"I was told I was too young at 72 to have the vaccine," she said. "Even though I'm suffering right now from severe asthma and that I was out of luck."

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