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COVID Vaccine: Santa Clara County Stops Scheduling First Dose Appointments Due To Supply

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) — Health officials in Santa Clara County on Wednesday confirmed they have stopped scheduling first dose appointments for the COVID vaccine due to a lack of supply from the state.

"Well, then I feel really lucky to have gotten it when I did," said Allison Ireland. "It feels wonderful, I feel a lot more secure."

Ireland, who is an occupational therapist and works with special needs children, received her second dose of the COVID vaccine at Levi's Stadium Wednesday evening.

Levi's Stadium Vaccination Site
COVID-19 vaccination site at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on March 10, 2021. (CBS)

A county spokesperson confirmed it had stopped scheduling first dose appointments last Friday because of the shortage in supply, and that its current supply was being reserved for second dose appointments. The county vaccination site reads that "all vaccination sites are currently full", citing "lower than expected vaccine allocation from the state."

Despite getting an additional allocation of 7,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccines Monday, the county only received 3,000 more doses than it did last week. That is because the county received 1,400 fewer Moderna shots and 3,510 fewer Pfizer vaccines than it had the week before, according to county data.

The Mercury News, which first broke the story, reported that the state public health department is blaming the shortage in distributed doses on manufacturing.

However, the state has received an increase in doses; 29,900 more in Moderna shots and 40,950 more in Pfizer shots.

"We were assured by the state that we were going to get sufficient doses to cover all of our second doses, particularly of Moderna, which as described we did not get," Santa Clara County Executive Officer Dr. Jeff Smith said during a weekly COVID update Tuesday.

The county's decision to stop scheduling first dose appointments comes a day after county officials told Gov. Gavin Newsom they will not participate in his plan to have Blue Shield control COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Smith said late Monday the county will not sign a contract with the health insurance company because it would not improve the speed or efficiency.

"A statewide third-party administrator clearly cannot adequately address the needs of our local community," Smith said in an email statement. "We don't need more bureaucracy limiting access to vaccine, we just need more vaccine," said Dr. Jeff Smith, County Executive for the County of Santa Clara."

The state's switch to a vaccine appointment and delivery system administered by Blue Shield was expected to be completed by March 31. Skepticism, however, has surfaced among the state's 58 counties.

"That's unfortunate, but I do feel good that I was able to be one to get it," said Lillian Hernandez.

The educator made an appointment last week, and received her first dose at Levi's Stadium on Wednesday.

Grace Gillio, who works in the agriculture industry, also received her first dose at Levi's Stadium.

"I'm really excited that I was able to get it," Gillio said. "I was thinking about it on the way here, like a year ago kind of this week, that's when everything kind of started happening and school closed."

Kaiser Permanente patients are being impacted by the cancellation of first doses in the county. About 8,500 appointments scheduled through the county between Thursday and March 21 will be transferred to Kaiser to reschedule.

The state has "assured" Kaiser it will have sufficient vaccine for its members, whereas the county received "no such commitment" for residents uninsured and vulnerable, county officials said.

The state has allocated 40 percent of vaccines to be targeted to 400 lower-income ZIP codes in the state, but no ZIP codes have been identified in Santa Clara County — which may explain why its allocations were lower this week, County Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said at Tuesday's county Board of Supervisors meeting.

Additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive in Santa Clara County on March 23.

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