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COVID-19 vaccine: Bay Area health experts discuss slow distribution

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UNION CITY, Calif. (KRON) — As vaccine hotlines are overwhelmed, Bay Area cities are getting ready to open large vaccination sites but it’s unclear how many doses will actually be acquired.

One health expert says there’s a number of reasons for the vaccine slowdown — from not enough funding early on to trying to tackle logistics during a bad surge in COVID cases.

As the Bay Area struggles day to day with an overwhelming number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, a slowdown to get vaccines into the arms of the public.

Health experts and doctors citing the biggest issues – supply and trying to administer in an orderly fashion.

Dr. John Swartzberg, infectious disease expert at U.C. Berkeley says the state’s population is also a challenge.

“We’ve got 40 million people in this state and it’s an enormous state not just with people but geographically as well so it’s pretty easy to do with North Dakota, South Dakota with 400,000 but you can’t scale it up that easily,” Dr. Swartzberg said.

According to the CDC, as of Friday California has administered COVID-19 vaccines to just over one million people.

That’s just about one-third of its available shots, making the state’s vaccine rollout among the worst in the country.

Governor Gavin Newsom took to Twitter Sunday that vaccine efforts are ramping up with more sites, vaccinators, access and maintaining equity.

Meanwhile, healthcare policymakers across the country are eyeing West Virginia which leads the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations by population, already having administered nearly 5,000 more shots than California.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice crediting their success with…

“You know all the first responders, all the different people from everywhere that are helping in every way, especially our National Guard, you know I love you to death,” Justice said. “Imagine this, our nation as a whole is struggling around, 30 percent of those vaccines are in people’s arms when West Virginia, every last one of them is in either in an arm or has a name tagged to it.”

Back in the Bay Area, a private practitioner in walnut creek acquired 500 doses from Contra Costa County and hosted a drive-thru clinic vaccinating people 65 and older.

While Bay Area counties can’t predict how much more vaccines are on the way.

Dr. Swartzberg is hopeful, especially with days away from a new presidency.

“When you look just a few months down the road, the logistics will be much better, never perfectly solved the vaccine is going to be there and that’s going to put a big dent on the number of cases just having lots of people vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Swartzberg adds things are going to smooth out with vaccine distribution with two new vaccines under clinical trials that require only one dose will likely be available in February or March.

In the meantime, mask up and social distance to slow the spread of COVID.

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