Coronavirus: Vaccine Tracker

Thousands have missed COVID-19 vaccine appointments; officials say it isn’t surprising

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – As many people wait anxiously for their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Santa Clara County health officials say they’re dealing with thousands of no-shows.

But county health doctors say that doesn’t mean any doses are going to waste.

“It’s not completely surprising… seeing a 10 to 20% no-show rate in health care is common,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong with the Santa Clara County Health Department.

Over the last week, some 4,000 people in Santa Clara decided not to show up for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Dr. Tong says though that number sounds large, the county administered about 40,000 doses across all 7 county-run sites, and a 10% no-show rate isn’t totally uncommon in health care.

“We would expect with excitement over getting the vaccine no-show rates would be minimal, but we know people for various reasons decide not to come for their appointments and for that reason we follow these rates closely on a daily basis and adjust our total capacity intermittently,” Dr. Tong said.

As far as the leftover shots go, Dr. Tong says they have processes in place to prevent any wasted doses.

That includes offering them to any area health care workers who may not be vaccinated yet, or other county employees working in high-touch public outreach settings.

“We thaw [the vaccines] for multiple days and so most of the time any unused vaccine can be allocated for a subsequent day. We also overbook at our site in anticipation of no-shows. And so if we have more people come than we thought, we can go into the next day’s supply of vaccines to make sure that everyone who does arrive is able to get their shots,” said Dr. Tong.

For those who have an appointment and are hesitant, Dr. Tong says – shows up anyway. Workers on-site will help answer any questions you may have.

Additionally, for those who know for sure they won’t be showing up – Dr. Tong is urging you to cancel your appointment online.

“Please take the time to cancel the appointment if you won’t be coming, so the appointment can be open for others who are eligible… and anxious.”

Dr. Tong says there’s no lag on the appointment website, so if someone cancels online, the slot will open up immediately.

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