South Bay officials worry vaccine supply could worsen as eligibility expands

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As thousands of Californians wait their turn for a COVID-19 vaccine, many say they have a sense of measured excitement now that the state has announced plans to expand eligibility next month.

"It's such a wonderful feeling, I can't even express it to you," said Campbell hairstylist Erica Martin, who has been working on the frontlines for months. "I'm excited because I'm going to be able to feel more comfortable in my work environment. Being close to a client, working less than six feet apart it can feel a little uncomfortable for both parties."

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Martin is looking forward to mid-April when she'll be eligible to get vaccinated as part of the 16 and older group, but wonders just how long it's going to take. Santa Clara County, which gets its supply directly from the state, estimates an additional 400,000 county residents between the ages of 50 and 64 will be eligible to receive the vaccine starting April 1. However, that could be problematic since the county says it was only allocated around 58,000 doses for next week. So far, state officials have been vague about what the county will receive after that.

"That 58,000 doses doesn't go very far," said Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. "We have the capacity to vaccinate over 200,000 people in our county and we're doing probably a third of that."

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Despite the uncertainty, healthcare providers across the region say they're optimistic. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado from Stanford School of Medicine says while it may be tough to get an appointment right now, more slots should be available in the coming weeks once providers have a clearer picture of the expanded supply.

"This spring is a spring of hope," said Maldonado. "We've moved from having no vaccines to having over 100 million doses given in the United States in that three-month period, so we've moved reasonably rapidly, and the companies are trying to keep up."

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