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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

When can you get vaccinated for COVID-19 in San Diego County?

Some estimates suggest it could take until February to begin Phase 2 and until the beginning of the summer to vaccinate all Americans.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County could get its first allotment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine this weekend with immunizations beginning soon after. The county has been allocated to receive approximately 28.275 doses out of the 327,000 doses California was assigned. The doses will be allocated proportionally by county.

The vaccine requires storage in ultra-cold freezers that are typically found in research facilities. The California Department of Public Health identified Rady Children’s Hospital as a local storage site early in the process. U.C. San Diego Health and the County Health and Human Services Agency confirmed they will also store some of the vaccines.

The first doses will be enough to vaccinate 72% of the county’s approximately 39,000 healthcare workers. HHSA and CDPH confirmed to News 8 it will give out all the vaccines and will use future shipments to give a required second dose, rather than hold back vaccines to ensure timely distribution of the second dose. 

CDPH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plan to distribute the vaccine in three phases, which were then broken down into subsections. Phase 1A, which will begin with the first vaccination, includes healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents.  

Some estimates suggest it could take until February to begin Phase 2 and until the beginning of the summer to vaccinate all Americans.

County health officials have requested additional shipments of the vaccine and will slowly distribute it according to the state’s distribution plan. It is expected to arrive within three to four weeks.

“You don't just get the vaccine,” explained Dr. Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., the county’s public health officer. “You have to sign up and ask or indicate how many doses you need. Now, just because you ask for ‘X’ number of doses doesn't mean you always get that.” 

Health officials estimated we need 60% to 70% of the population to get the vaccine to achieve herd immunity. The county estimated 20% of San Diegans have reservations about getting it.

“The number one reason that approximately 20% gave was they just didn't think there had been enough time. Well, the reality is we're watching it now,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “It is going to take many months before it is widely available to the public and we think over that time frame, confidence will rise.” 

The phases and tiers are broken down as follows: 

  • Phase 1 – Essential 
    • Phase 1A – Healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents 
      • Tier 1  
        • Acute care, psychiatric, and correctional facility hospitals 
        • Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals 
        • Residents of the above facilities 
        • Paramedics, EMTs, others providing emergency medical services 
        • Dialysis centers 
      • Tier 2 
        • Intermediate care, for persons who need non-continuous nursing supervision, and supportive care 
        • Home health care and in-home supportive services 
        • Community health workers, including promotoras 
        • Public health field staff 
        • Primary care clinics, including federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, correctional facility clinics, and urgent care clinics 
      • Tier 3 
        • Other settings and health care workers 
        • Specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental/oral health clinics, pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers 
    • Phase 1B – Essential workers (education, food/agriculture, utilities, police, firefighters, corrections officers, transportation) 
    • Phase 1C – Adults with high-risk medical conditions & Seniors older than 65. 
  • Phase 2 – Children and Adults 30-years-old and younger, other critical workers 
  • Phase 3 – Everyone living in the U.S. 

Note: Phase 1B and beyond will likely be broken up into tiers. 

Q&A: 

When will the first dose be given in San Diego County? 

We don’t know the exact date. Pfizer has said it can begin shipping the vaccine with 24 hours of FDA approval. It is expected to arrive this weekend, but there is no date for the first vaccine dose to be given. 

Who will get the first doses? 

Healthcare workers will receive the first doses under the distribution plan created by the California Department of Public Health. 

During Phase 1a of allocation, COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to the following persons in California: Persons at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through their work in any role in direct health care or long-term care settings. o This population includes persons at direct risk of exposure in their non-clinical roles, such as, but not limited to, environmental services, patient transport, or interpretation.

When will we get future vaccine shipments? How many will we get? 

CDPH expects the second shipment will arrive in mid-January. We don’t yet know how many doses it will contain. At this point, only health staff and long-term care residents are on the horizon to get the vaccine soon. 

When can I expect to get the vaccine? 

Phase 1: Estimated to begin December-January 

Phase 2: Estimated to begin February-April 

Phase 3: Estimated to begin April-July 

 Timing will vary based on several factors.

“Once the vaccines are available [for people] that are not in acute care hospital category, we will let you know when the vaccines will be available for you,” said Wooten. 

Will the vaccine be equitably distributed? 

Yes, the state has several benchmarks to ensure the vaccines are available to all Californians.