People line up to enter the Moscone South COVID-19 Vaccination Hub on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

People line up to enter the Moscone South COVID-19 Vaccination Hub on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Appointments may be hard to come by as vaccine eligibility expands

California opens up doses to people aged 50 or older beginning Thursday

San Franciscans hoping to get vaccinated once eligibility expands to anyone age 50 or older in California on Thursday might have a tough time finding an appointment, health officials say.

The limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines across the nation means appointments may be hard to come by for days or even weeks, according to San Francisco’s Covid Command Center. And the issue could be further compounded by eligibility expanding to those 16 or older beginning April 15.

“Given that The City, state, and country are still coping with an insufficient and unpredictable vaccine supply and an increasing need to allocate limited vaccine supply to second doses, many people may experience difficulty securing their first vaccine appointment in the coming weeks,” officials said Wednesday in a statement to the San Francisco Examiner.

Despite the challenges, Mayor London Breed is celebrating the expanded eligibility as another “major milestone in our fight against COVID-19.” She said San Francisco continues to recieve more vaccines despite the limited supply and is regularly administering over 10,000 shots a day.

“While an appointment may not immediately be available, one will be soon,” Breed said in a statement. “The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can end this pandemic.”

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California anticipates receiving an increase from 1.8 million to 2.5 million doses per week in the first half of April, while doses are expected to grow to 3 million in the second half of the month. Doses are distributed to county health departments and health care providers who then administer them to the public.

Kaiser Permanente reminded patients that vaccines are limited in a message to patients this week.

“We haven’t received enough doses yet to vaccinate everyone who’s eligible,” Kaiser wrote. “In Northern California, Kaiser Permanente has over 900,000 members 50 to 64, and over 2 million members 16 to 49, yet we receive 55,000 to 75,000 doses each week.”

In recent days, University of California, San Francisco has been focused on administering second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine to homebound patients. They expect to receive a “couple thousand first doses” to administer this week.

“We hope that the vaccine supply is plentiful and more consistent in mid-April,” UCSF spokesperson Elizabeth Fernandez said.

To date, 345,995 residents have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, or 45 percent of the population age 16 and over. More than 80 percent of residents 65 and older have received at least their first dose since they became eligible in January.

Residents looking to make an appoint for a vaccine should visit sf.gov/getvaccinated or myturn.ca.gov. Those unable to easily access the internet may call (628) 652-2700 to receive assistance in booking an appointment.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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