Statewide Vaccine Surplus

As LA County Medical Chief Barbara Ferrer admits, Los Angeles is starting to run out of people to vaccinate with Covid vaccines.

California is in far better shape than just weeks ago when scoring an appointment was cause for celebration.

Today, Los Angeles, San Diego and other populous counties are advertising that anyone can walk in for a shot, and the state is texting reminders that plenty of appointments are available.

Rural Humboldt County even declined 1,000 extra doses last week due to low demand.

More than 18 million of an estimated 32 million people eligible for vaccine in California are fully or partially vaccinated, including nearly half of people in economically vulnerable ZIP codes hardest hit by the pandemic and 73% of residents 65 and older. The country’s most populous state, like much of the U.S., appears to have hit a vaccine plateau.

The dwindling demand for vaccines illustrates the challenge that the U.S. faces in trying to end the pandemic, even as other countries are in the midst of full-blown medical emergencies and short on vaccine.

Going forward, health authorities will need to make more effort to reach the unvaccinated, say health experts. The group includes people unable to leave their homes or who can’t miss work; for some, a vaccination may not be a priority, or they may have questions that can’t be answered when making a vaccination appointment online.

“We want to reach all people, and what happens at this point in the process is each person we try to reach becomes a little harder to reach,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, epidemiology and biostatistics chair at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s not as easy as putting up a mass vaccination site and saying if you build it, they will come.”

Counties, cities and providers nationwide are turning to paramedics to deliver in-home shots or arrange transportation to vaccination sites, even offering incentives to try to reach as many people as possible. Like California, many states also have more doses than arms to put them in.

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson each have a vaccine on the market, though the latter was pulled for about ten days due to safety concerns.


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