Kaiser Permanente says a lack of supply has led to the slow and messy vaccine rollout among their patients, many of whom have described frustratingly long waits only to be told there are no available appointments.
In an email sent to patients over the weekend, CEO Greg Adams acknowledged these concerns and explained just how bad the vaccine shortage is. He said Kaiser cares for 9.3 million Californians and has so far received only 300,000 doses.
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That averages to roughly 43,000 doses a week since the vaccine first shipped to California in mid-December. If that rate continues, it means it would take roughly 216 weeks -- or just over 4 years -- to have enough of the first dose for all of Kaiser's California patients.
"The unfortunate reality is that the number of vaccine doses being produced and distributed is currently not enough to meet the need -- and it will be several months before vaccine supply in the U.S. approaches what is required," Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Greg Adams said in the email.
Jeannine Wilson is a Kaiser patient and outside medical provider from Marin County who is considered part of Phase 1A for vaccinations, although she still can't get an appointment. She recently tried and was put on hold for 42 minutes.
"After 42 minutes I went through another round of questions only to be told that, yes, I was eligible, but there were no vaccines and no appointments and I should call back in a week," Wilson told ABC7 News. "It seemed really willy nilly and almost felt like I was trying to get a really difficult concert ticket."
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Thankfully, experts believe the staggeringly slow pace at which Kaiser is receiving vaccines will soon pick up. Dr. Mike Wasserman, who is a member of California's Vaccine Advisory Committee, says he's anticipating a big change in the next three to four weeks.
"With a new administration in Washington I'm expecting the amount of vaccine that's available to start going up," Dr. Wasserman said, "And I think the challenge for all of us, we just need to know how many vaccines are going to be made available in the next couple weeks, the next couple months."
Dr. Wasserman said he believes the public deserves that transparency.
"I'm a Kaiser member so I got that same letter and I thought that it was very transparent," he said, referring to the email from Greg Adams, "And we need more transparency in terms of honestly knowing what's available."
Adams said Kaiser is prepared and plans to administer 200,000 vaccines per week when they become available. At that rate, it would take less than a year to vaccinate, or at least give one dose to, all of Kaiser's patients.
"I think Kaiser's trying," Wilson said. "I think they realize how frustrated and upset people are, and I think they are pretty frustrated as well."
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