SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Thursday, vaccine eligibility expanded to all Californians 16 and older, in all the state's counties. It comes as some local vaccine sites are seeing record turnout and while state health officials are planning in case this system needs to stay in place long term for booster shots.
On Wednesday night, Tori Balsam-Ashling and her mom Kimberly Balsam, told ABC7 about their strategy to stay up late and get up early in order to find a COVID vaccine appointment, the minute the 17-year-old San Mateo County resident became eligible.
"We were just both checking throughout the day. Tori had school, I had work, but whenever I had any kind of break or even multi-tasking while I was in other meetings, I would just keep clicking through and each time there would be nothing or by the time I'd click on it, it would be gone," said Kimberly.
Tori said she searched multiple sites, "MyTurn, CVS, Walgreens, Kaiser, and Costco." And then finally, 17 hours into the hunt, she found an appointment through Sutter's website at Levi's Stadium on Friday morning. "I'm really excited and I'll definitely feel a lot safer when we go back to school," said the high school junior.
Director of California's Department of Public Health, Dr. Tomas Aragon, told ABC7's reporter, Kate Larsen, that he hopes people will be patient during this vaccine eligibility influx. "Our goal is to do up to 4 million per week. Right now, we're doing 2 million. So as the supply goes up, we'll be able to scale to that amount."
Pfizer's CEO said that a third booster shot of their vaccine could be needed within 12 months and Moderna is running trials for booster regimens.
Kate Larsen: "Do you anticipate California's vaccine infrastructure to be a long term commitment?"
Dr. Tomas Aragon: "That's been our approach from the very beginning is to build out a large network of providers so that we can continue to vaccinate folks."
At this point, almost 16 million Californians have received at least one COVID vaccine dose.
"I would guess that we're pushing 50% of people with some degree of immunity right now in California," said UCSF epidemiologist, Dr. George Rutherford, who continued. "I think we'll be getting towards something approaching herd immunity maybe mid-May or something."
Dr. Rutherford says California is poised to outrun surges that other states, like Michigan, are seeing especially as more teenagers, like Tori, get vaccinated. "That's where were going to put a really big dent in these numbers."
Dr. Aragon's takeaway: "We're in a very good place."
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