Why can't I get a COVID-19 vaccine? We asked Bay Area officials to explain what's taking so long

Health officers from San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties explain what's holding up the vaccine rollout
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Pretty much everyone in California has the same question: Why can't I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Sure, the state has vaccinated millions of people, but there are still millions more who are eligible to get a vaccine and can't get an appointment. (There are also tens of millions Californians still waiting for their turn to come up.) Officials have cited a variety of reasons for why it's so hard to get a vaccine, but what's going on with the process right now?

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ABC7 News sent reporters to talk to health leaders in Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Contra Costa counties about what is causing problems with the vaccine rollout in their areas right now. Keep reading for their answers.

What is your vaccination capacity right now?

Santa Clara County: The county receives 6,000 doses daily Monday through Friday and 1,000 doses on weekends. "The biggest challenge is that the County has the capacity to administer more vaccines than it is currently receiving," a spokesperson told ABC7 News.

San Francisco County: The city's new mass vaccination site at the Moscone Center will be able to dole out 10,000 shots per day. Of course that comes with a big caveat: It all depends on how many doses the site receives.

Contra Costa County: "Right now we are giving 20,000 shots a week," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. "If we had more vaccines, we have the capacity to be giving 40,000 a week. We have pharmacies and private physicians standing by to ramp up our capacity even more."

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What is the state telling you about supply moving forward?

Santa Clara: The county says it has about two to three weeks' supply of vaccine on hand, and it has been assured of a 20% increase by state and federal agencies. The job ahead is formidable -- only 37% of those 75 and older and only 28% of those 65 and older have been vaccinated so far.

San Francisco: Information changes day-to-day, said Kecia Kelly, chief nursing officer with Dignity Health.

Contra Costa: The county believes supply will be increasing by 15% to 20% over the next three weeks, Farnitano said, and could go up slightly more in March.

How far in advance do you know if you're receiving doses?

Santa Clara: The county typically finds out about the next week's supply on Tuesday evenings. "This does not provide adequate lead time for planning for the County and other vaccine providers," said a county spokesperson.

San Francisco: Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health, which will administer injections at the Moscone Center, only receive vaccine shipping numbers a few days in advance.

Contra Costa: "Right now we have a pretty accurate dashboard of what to expect looking ahead for about three weeks," said Farnitano. "Based on that supply information we book appointments."

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Mayor London Breed held a press conference Thursday at Moscone Center in San Francisco to announce it would be opening as a vaccination site Friday.

Are you holding back second doses?

Santa Clara: Not anymore, says the county. "Yesterday, the state sent a letter to all vaccine providers directing them to discontinue categorizing doses as first or second doses. The state's direction is to get all vaccine supplies on hand into arms as soon as possible. Future weekly allotments to providers will be based on the number of doses they administer and won't separate first and second doses."

San Francisco: The county does not plan to hold back second doses.

Contra Costa: The county is not holding back vaccines, Farnitano said. However, they are in the phase of the rollout where they are starting to give out more second doses. "We are carefully balancing appointments for second doses and first doses to make sure we do not have to cancel appointments," he said.

How long do you anticipate it will take to vaccinate everyone in your county?

Santa Clara: The county's goal is to vaccinate 85% of eligible residents by Aug. 1. But the county is quick to point out: it all depends on the supply they're given.

San Francisco: At least three months and possibly to the end of summer.

Contra Costa: The county plans to have "most" people vaccinated by July 4.

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