'No doses, no vaccine:' Bay Area county leaders, hospitals say they don't have enough to meet demand

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Websites down, phone lines at capacity and many elders stuck with little information about how to proceed in getting their COVID-19 vaccine. It seems there are more people who want the vaccine than there are doses.

So many people attempted to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine at Sutter Health Thursday, that MyHealthOnline was temporarily offline.

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A phone recording alerted patients that the call system was at capacity.

"Your Sutter provider is not able to schedule vaccination or provide vaccination at this time. Please do not contact your doctor's office. You can log in or sign up now at myhealthonline.sutterhealth.org," the recording stated.

But with the website temporarily down and phone lines jammed, people aren't sure what to do. Neither are Bay Area county leaders.

"No doses no vaccine, so no doses from the state there's no way we can administer it," said David Canepa, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President.

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Santa Clara County health officials announced residents 75 and older can now sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in the county and responded to concerns about a vaccine sign up link inadvertently shared with people who were turned away.

Canepa says the county is projecting early to mid-next week it will run out of doses to give to those who want it at the event center.

The doses the county has, have already been assigned to healthcare professionals in tier 1a.

"We are not moving forward with vaccinating those 65 and over. 2:23 still looking at 75 and older when they move through that tier," said Canepa.

ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow asked Canepa, "what is the state telling San Mateo County leaders about where those doses are?"

"We don't know Melanie, we don't know," responded Canepa.

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It's not just individual counties or Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente tells ABC7 News successfully delivering the vaccine depends on getting access to adequate supplies of vaccine.

"...Given the current limited supply of vaccine nationally it is important to know that not everyone who is eligible will be able to make an appointment right away," wrote a spokesperson in an emailed statement from Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente expects by the end of next week to have an online self-service tool in place to schedule an appointment if the supply is there.

Meantime, UCSF held a discussion today about the vaccine rollout.

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"We're trying to create an infrastructure that doesn't exist, mass vaccination," said Paul Offit, Professor of Vaccinology, University of Pennsylvania; Director of the Vaccine Education Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Confusion by those who want to get the Covid-19 vaccine and frustration by officials who want to administer it.

"People, the public don't want to hear excuses, they just want to get vaccinated so that we can end COVID," said Canepa.

Canepa says San Mateo County has turned away dozens of people at the event center and has also canceled a large number of appointments made by individuals who don't qualify for the vaccine now.

Sutter Health is imploring people who don't currently qualify for the vaccine to not call their phones so that those who do qualify can get through and sign up.

Here's what a Sutter spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement:
"We are encouraged the State of California is expanding its vaccine eligibility as they begin building capacity to vaccinate Californians. At this time, Sutter is prioritizing the state's most vulnerable populations including those who are 75-plus years of age and our community health care workers because they are at greatest risk according CDC guidance. As vaccine supply and appointment capacity expands, we will broaden eligibility and notify our patients. We share in the excitement and hope that comes with the COVID-19 vaccine and are working extremely hard to meet eligible patients' scheduling requests."

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