Middle-aged Californians newly eligible for shots have rushed for coveted dates, sometimes being turned down due to a lack of supply. At the same time, experts have warned of a alarming increase in COVID variant infections. It’s a “race between the variants and the vaccine,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health official. But across the Bay Area, the vaccine team has been hampered by a vaccine shortage.
“We’re back in a bit of a precarious situation when it comes to our ability to curb this pandemic,” Cody said, noting that the four most worrying viral mutations are circulating in his county, which later on Thursday opened thousands of first dose appointments for the first time in a month. “We all have cabin fever, we all want to get out, we all want to get our lives back. But we can’t do that yet.
Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged the challenges of vaccines as he was vaccinated by COVID on Thursday.
“Even if we raise eligibility, lowering the age to 50, (and) in two weeks everyone 16 and over, that doesn’t mean that on April 16 everyone who wants a vaccine will have been vaccinated, ”he said. “It will take several more months to get there.”
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly administered Newsom’s photo of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine at a Los Angeles shopping mall turned vaccination site, as the media watched.
“One and done,” Newsom, 53, said before Ghaly rolled up the governor’s sleeve and injected his right arm. “I have been looking forward to this for many, many months.”
Not everyone has been so fortunate in their efforts to secure an immunization appointment.
“I’m convinced this is a giant April Fool’s joke,” Marin’s Jan Derrickson, 56, wrote to the news agency.
“It’s not just frustrating, it’s just annoying, I guess it’s the only beautiful word I can use,” said Jane Goldbach of San Jose. She had tried unsuccessfully to make an appointment for her 55-year-old son, who has a learning disability and lives with her.
Striking an ominous note, Santa Clara County health officials on Thursday warned residents to avoid travel, continue to wear face masks and avoid activities indoors with others even as businesses continued to reopen. As of March 27, there were 92 confirmed cases of the UK variant in the most populous county in the Bay Area, three confirmed cases of the South African variant, one case of the Brazilian variant and more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the pair known together as the California or West Coast variant.
The west coast variant is particularly troubling because it has been shown to be more contagious and more resistant to antibodies, according to a study from the University of California at San Francisco.
In addition, Santa Clara County on Thursday reported its first two cases of the two New York variants, which are considered less threatening “variants of interest.”
While the numbers remain well below the December-January outbreak, some counties are seeing their number of cases soar. San Mateo County reported a seven-day average of 64 new cases on Wednesday, up from a recent low of 30 in mid-March. Hospitalizations have also increased this week, with the county reporting 30 confirmed COVID-19 patients on Wednesday and 24 on Tuesday, up from 12 earlier this week.
Santa Clara County expects to receive more vaccines next week – 71,900 doses – than the 58,000 it received this week. But that’s not enough, said Dr Marty Fenstersheib, head of testing and vaccines for Santa Clara County. Thursday’s extension to include those 50 and over puts about 370,000 more people on the county’s eligibility list, which Fenstersheib says “adds a lot of people for whom we don’t have a vaccine for the. moment”.
After about a month of offering virtually no appointments for the first dose, Santa Clara County posted thousands of new openings Thursday on sites run by the county.
About a third of eligible people in the county have received at least one dose of what is typically a two-dose vaccination schedule, making Santa Clara County one of the slowest in the Bay Area to be vaccinated. its residents.
Marin was the first in the region to cross the halfway mark, with 54% of residents 16 and older having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Napa is right behind, with about 48% of residents 16 and over having received at least one shot on Tuesday.
Contra Costa County has made great strides in vaccinating its oldest residents with over 95% of residents 75 and over at least partially vaccinated, and it has now expanded eligibility to all adults, the first county in the region to take this step. The county’s vaccination rate as of Tuesday was 43%.
In San Francisco, around 80% of adults are expected to receive a vaccine by mid-May – if the offer is according to projections, the mayor of London Breed tweeted Thursday.Newsom received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the day after the company said it had to throw away 15 million doses due to an issue with a batch of drugs at its Baltimore plant. The supply disruption will not affect California’s allocation of the Johnson & Johnson shots for at least three weeks, Newsom said. He was told that California would receive 572,700 doses next week, 215,400 the following week and 215,400 more the following week.
“Beyond that, it’s an open question,” Newsom said.
As the virus and its variants continue to spread, the pace of the region’s reopening worries some, including Goldbach.
“I don’t like the idea of the state and the counties opening up,” she said, “when we still have this big medical problem and no vaccinations are available.”
Harriet Blair Rowan and Maggie Angst contributed to this article.