As California approaches 1 million COVID-19 vaccines administered, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the more efficient our process for mass vaccination, the sooner our state can begin to climb out of the pandemic slog we’ve been in for nearly a year.
While nearly a million shots in arms is an important milestone, the early part of the process has been slowed by a lack of clarity as different levels of government – federal, state, county – try to coordinate on how doses are allocated. That’s why CHA and the Regional Associations have been meeting over the past several weeks, with leaders from all levels, to help make sure vaccinations can be delivered quickly.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a dramatic overhaul of the vaccine program, paving the way for counties to begin vaccinating anyone over age 65. This is a helpful step toward reaching the numbers of vaccinations needed to achieve broad immunity to the virus, but continuously changing rules as to who can be vaccinated creates an erratic environment that is further slowing the vaccination process.
Even with this change, many logistical challenges remain, all of which we’ve shared with the highest levels of government:
- An inconsistent vaccine supply, making it hard to plan, and harder to execute a plan that’s already in place. On this, state leaders have assured us that they will push their federal counterparts for a larger supply of the vaccine and more consistent/predictable shipments. The problem: Every other state is pushing for more vaccines as well.
- The need to retain hospital staff for patient care during the COVID-19 surge, rather than rely solely on them for vaccination efforts. We are working closely with statewide organizations representing doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and others to create community vaccination clinics to expand for broader populations.
- Striking the right balance between speed and precision – a challenge hospitals understand well as you’ve been working to deliver vaccines to health care workers. The Governor’s announcement Wednesday is an important move toward speed, but coming full circle, the pace will ultimately depend on how many vaccines are available.
These are more than just the minor bumps one might expect in a mass vaccination effort, and we know every snag frustrates the work of hospitals even more. Be assured that we are working at highest levels to rapidly create an effective vaccination infrastructure to move us all a bit closer to the light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel.