SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Sutter Health announced that they have expanded their COVID-19 vaccination effort to include people who are 65 and older.

The healthcare company was previously only vaccinating patients 75 and older, but as state guidelines begin to ease up more people are eligible to get the vaccine.

“We are rolling up our sleeves so more patients can roll up theirs,” the company said in a statement. “At this time, we are prioritizing our patients who are 65-plus years of age and community healthcare workers. These populations are at greatest risk, according to CDC guidance. By expanding capacity, we can continue deploying as much vaccine as possible to eligible patients, as supply allows. As vaccine supply expands, we will broaden eligibility and notify our patients.”

And it’s not just Sutter that’s expanding the rollout beyond those 75 and older — so is UCSF Health.

“We knew we needed to open it up to be consistent with the national and statewide messaging,” Dr. Josh Adler, UCSF Health Chief Clinical Officer, said. 

Dr. Josh Adler is overseeing the vaccine rollout at UCSF Health. He says the decision to expand vaccine access to those 65+ will hopefully put patients at ease.

“There was so much confusion between what we were doing limiting to 75 and older and what the state and CDC were saying about who is eligible, that it was causing our patients to be confused and frustrated and not understanding why we were not providing the vaccine,” Dr. Adler said. 

But Dr. Adler cautions, the expanded access does not mean supply has increased it has not.

“There is nothing about our supply that has changed,” Dr. Adler said. 

That means it will still take quite a bit of time to get those most at risk vaccinated.

“We have over 200,000 patients who are 65 + and we don’t have nearly not nearly that much vaccine,” Dr. Adler said. 

Just to put that in perspective over 200,000 patients 65 years of age and older and UCSF is only receiving about 5,000 to 6,000 doses of vaccine each week.

Eligible Sutter patients can self-schedule through Sutter’s online patient portal or through a dedicated hotline: (844) 987-6115.

  • Sutter’s call center is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
  • Call center representatives can help eligible Sutter patients book appointments for their first doses. Second dose appointments are scheduled at the time of the first vaccination.
  • Sutter patients should not contact their provider’s office to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations— they’re not able to book appointments or provide scheduling exceptions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has so far approved two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, one made by Moderna and another made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

For the vaccines to be effective, people must get two doses. The second dose should be administered about 3-4 weeks after the first.

People who have received the vaccine so far have reported minor side effects. This includes fever, body aches and fatigue. Health officials say the side effects are of no concern.