California is seeing a statewide struggle to meet COVID-19 vaccine demands as shortages hamstring local distribution efforts, according to reports.
A number of counties, including Los Angeles County, have seen shipments of vaccines shrink over the past few weeks. Some people have had their appointments for the first shot canceled as a result of supply issues, according to the L.A. Times.
“The supply of vaccine, we acknowledge that’s going to be our rate-limiting step,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said Tuesday. “We always hope for more, we continue to work with the federal administration to push for more, but that will be one of our biggest challenges.”
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California officials maintain that the state is on course with its distribution program, even as they acknowledge that the state is suffering a shortage.
“California will reach 4 million vaccinations on Friday, the most by any state by more than 1 million,” COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Senior Communications Adviser Darrel Ng told Fox News on behalf of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration. “The state has administered 1 million vaccines in the past week alone, more than the 40 states have each administered ever. According to data from the Bloomberg tracker (to hopefully compare apples to apples), California is administering 50% more daily vaccines than the next closest state (Texas), and Texas is only 33% smaller than California.”
“The No. 1 factor in counties not having vaccines is the lack of vaccine in the country,” Ng added. “That is not a criticism of any single party, but the reality of every single county, state and country.”
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California initially followed a plan as outlined by federal health experts, prioritizing nursing home residents and health care workers, but has seen itself fall behind states like South Dakota, West Virginia, Texas and Florida.
California has administered some 3.45 million injections – the most of any state in the country – but recent weeks have seen it ranked among the lowest per capita in vaccinating its population.
California is home to around 39.5 million residents. Not all of the state’s population is qualified for the vaccine, but even that smaller population has only seen around 7% of first doses administered and only 1.6% of second doses, according to The New York Times.
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San Diego County has had to limit itself to 10,000 doses a day, which amounts to half of what the county is capable of doing, the Times of San Diego reported.
“The problem that we have now is our efforts have far outpaced the supply of vaccines,” San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. “If those supplies increase, we are poised and ready and can quickly ramp up.”
Fletcher claimed that by mid-February, the county would be able to administer 30,000 doses a day, but that the supply is not there.
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Fresno County has been especially hard-hit, with health officials saying they’ve had to “pause” first-dose clinics because of a lack of vaccines in the county, according to ABC 30.
“In the next two weeks, we’re doing second dose clinics at the fairgrounds, and the Sierra Pacific Ortho Site as well,” Fresno County Public Health Division Manager Joe Prado said. “There’s not a lot of additional first dose clinics we can do at this time.”
Second doses will be administered via drive-thrus where possible, mostly vaccinating frontline workers.
Prado said the county could not open more clinics until they receive more supplies.
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In flat numbers, while California will have administered 4 million vaccines by Friday, the state has the largest population of any state. Texas claimed Thursday that it had administered almost 3 million vaccines, which is 75% of California’s output with approximately 66% of the population.
Using the Bloomberg tracker, as Ng noted, California is lagging in distribution per capita: California has administered 10.08 vaccinations per 100, while New York has administered 10.92 per 100, Virginia has administered 11.12 per 100, New Mexico 14.05 per 100 and North Dakota 15.38 per 100, according to data. Texas only slightly lags behind California with 9.68 per 100.
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“The supply crunch creates this huge unmet demand, which creates chaos,” said Andrew Noymer, associate professor of public health at UC Irvine. “There are just layers and layers of logistical issues that we have today that we didn’t have in previous vaccination campaigns.”
Newsom has not faced much, if any, high-profile criticism for the rollout, possibly because California’s rollout plan is handled at the county level. However, Newsom has been the target of a recall effort after consistent criticism for his handling of the pandemic in his state.
The recall petition has reached 1.4 million signatures, with only 1.5 million required to initiate the recall and trigger an election.