SAN DIEGO — Scripps Health will begin to offer the coronavirus vaccine to seniors 65 and older on Wednesday. It follows the county’s decision to offer the vaccine to seniors 75 and older at its sites this week.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the initiatives:
I’m over 65. How can I get the vaccine?
Scripps is offering the vaccine to people 65 and older with a previously established primary care provider at Scripps.
Eligible patients will receive an invitation to make an appointment at a vaccination site through their MyScripps account. If you are an established patient at Scripps without a MyScripps account, you can create one online here.
Walk-ups are not permitted.
I’m eligible. Why couldn’t I make an appointment?
Appointments are limited by the number of expected doses. Scripps estimates 9,000 people tried to simultaneously make appointments when the vaccination effort was announced. New appointment slots will be added as more doses become available.
“We have 150,000 patients just at Scripps alone who are over the age of 65,” said Ghazala Sharieff, M.D., Scripps Health chief medical officer. “[Wednesday] we’re doing 4,000 a day. We can ramp up and down based on the vaccines that we get. Ideally, if I had as many doses we could do as much as 10,000 a day. That’s with taking care of patients, but we just don’t have the vaccines.”
Am I guaranteed to get the vaccine if I get an appointment?
Scripps says they will try to fulfill appointments, but it depends on the vaccine shipments.
“I would rather schedule them with the hope that we're going to get it than to wait until the last minute and then nobody can come in or there's another crash of the system and nobody gets in,” said Sharieff. “I’d rather be proactive than be caught trying to find patients [when] we have the vaccine [prepared] in our hands. It's more important for me to schedule what I think I'm going to get.”
Someone I know got the vaccine. Why can’t I?
“My plea to everybody is to have a little bit of patience. We have some people who are very upset because they weren't in that first round and I'd love to [vaccinate them], but we can't. [With] some people, the wife got the appointment, or the husband did and that's just going to happen. But instead of being upset, I'd be happy that we're starting and that somebody in your household got a vaccine and if you didn't, we're rolling as fast as we can,” said Sharieff.
Can people who live outside San Diego County get the vaccine at Scripps?
Scripps’ vaccination clinics are open to established patients who regularly see a primary care provider at Scripps regardless of where they live.
Why are some places vaccinating seniors 75 and older while others are vaccinating 65 and older?
Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed seniors over the age of 65 to receive the vaccine last week. However, San Diego County said it did not have enough vaccines to open slots at county-run sites to anyone other than healthcare workers. It later expanded the vaccinations to people 75 and older.
Any healthcare provider can choose to use its vaccine supply to vaccinate seniors 65 and older, which is why Scripps has expanded availability.
“Frankly, the 65 age we chose not only because the governor told us to, but that's the deaths that we are seeing. Our average age of people dying is 71 and so we wanted to get started,” said Sharieff.
Is Scripps distributing the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine? How can I get a second dose?
Scripps is distributing both vaccines depending on availability. Appointments for a second dose either 21 or 28 days later will be made when you get your first vaccine. You must receive the same brand vaccine for both doses.
“The best advice I will give everybody is to schedule that appointment. We cannot hold the vaccine. So, if you decide that you're traveling and I can't get my vaccine on day 21 or 28 or right around that time period, you may lose your second dose because we can't keep it indefinitely,” said Sharieff.
I’m not a Scripps patient. How can I get the vaccine?
If you’re a healthcare worker, a member of Phase 1A, or aged 75 and older you can visit this county site to read appointment instructions at other vaccination sites.
You may also receive information from your healthcare provider when you are eligible to receive the vaccine.
How can I learn more about the vaccine phases?
The county lists information about the different phases and tiers here on their website.
What about people who entered the U.S. illegally?
“San Diego County is committed to all people having access to public health, including the vaccines. So, they are not going to be asked for any documents as to their legal status in the U.S.,” said Supervisor Nora Vargas in a Spanish-language response to questions during the county’s weekly update. “The information is confidential and private. We want to remind them that they have to return for your second vaccine. So, we are committed to making all information confidential.”