San Diego County still not ready to administer vaccines to people over 65 years old
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County public health officials reported 3,261 new COVID-19 infections and 54 deaths from the virus Wednesday as the county officially crossed the 200,000 total case mark and neared 2,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.
The state of California Wednesday authorized immediate access to COVID-19 vaccines for all residents aged 65 and older, following new guidance from the federal government, after the state of Florida saw success administering vaccines in this way.
The only difference, Florida is allowing hospitals to run the show, while California is relying on local governments to lead.
“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the change. “Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state.”
San Diego County had months to prepare for this, but Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked San Diegans to temper their expectations for the time being. There are more than 620,000 people in the county counted in the Tier 1A vaccine distribution cohort. With the 65+ group, health officials are looking at another 500,000 for well over a million people eligible for vaccines. Both vaccines on the market are not effective without two doses.
“We have received just north of 200,000 vaccines in the county,” he said, emphasizing for the time being health care workers would still be prioritized until more vaccine supplies become available.
Even so, the county plans to open three more “Vaccination Super Stations” like the one in Downtown San Diego adjacent to Petco Park in early February. Fletcher said the county’s Health & Human Services Agency was working with health partners to expand smaller distribution sites from four to 12.
By the end of June, the HHSA hopes to have 70% of the county’s population over the age of 16 — or 1,882,554 people — vaccinated. Currently it has .04% immunized from COVID-19 and is administering 6,153 vaccines a day. Fletcher said the county’s goal is giving 18,686 vaccines each day by Feb. 1.
Of the 14,636 tests reported Wednesday, 22% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average to 14.2% from Tuesday’s 13.8%. The county and its health partners have administered more than 3 million tests since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations resulting from the virus rose to a record 1,804, and intensive care units had 425 patients with COVID-19, just one shy of Monday’s record 426. A total of 33 staffed ICU beds remain in the county — including both adult and pediatric beds. Only 246 ICU beds are occupied by patients without COVID-19.