CA doctor worries vaccines won't make it to underserved communities as eligibility opens up

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As 16 million Californians became eligible for the vaccine Thursday, ABC7 spent the day searching for appointments for viewers.

California received 1.5 million vaccines, a slight increase from the following week, according to the state.

"We hope to see that number keep going up," said Gov. Gavin Newsom during a Thursday press conference. "The only constraint prohibiting us from getting out more doses is manufactured supply."

RELATED: Gov. Newsom visits vaccine site as California expands eligibility to people 16 and over

Appointments became available for anyone 16 and older starting at 12 a.m. Thursday. ABC7 found the zip codes showing brief availability throughout the day were in Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Alameda counties. But, most appointments that did pop up were gone within seconds.

"I'm concerned that the people who need the vaccine the most may now get trampled over by the rest of the population," said Dr. Mike Wasserman, who sits on California's vaccine advisory committee.

The advisory committee met this week to discuss the state's progress prioritizing equity.

"The folks who are the most vulnerable, in the most underserved areas, they have been lagging behind," Wasserman said.

According to the state's latest equity metrics, also referred as the California Healthy Places Index (HPI), around 37% of California's healthiest populations are fully vaccinated. Whereas, only 23% has received a vaccine in the state's poorest populations.

RELATED: California among the worst states on COVID-19 vaccine equity, according to CDC

"The issue of equity, it's been stubborn and hard," said Newsom. "We're not going to take our eye off that ball."

"It's talk," Wasserman said. "We haven't executed."

The governor says the state has received around 517,000 doses in the last 24 hours. He hopes the state's weekly supply will double by May to allow for 6 million doses to be administered per week.

"I think there's still good confidence that we're going to have a good amount of vaccine soon," Wasserman said. "It shouldn't be a problem as long as we get a good amount of Pfizer and Moderna."

According to the White House COVID-19 Taskforce, no additional doses of Pfizer or Moderna are being purchased while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine remains paused. The federal government confirms between the two vaccines there is enough supply to vaccinate 300 million Americans by mid-July. The governor anticipates doses of Pfizer and Moderna will be widely available in California by May.

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