SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – In just 10 days a new group of San Diegans will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone between the ages of 16-64 with specific underlying conditions will be able to make appointments.
The list of conditions specified by the state include certain types of cancer, kidney disease, heart conditions, and type 2 diabetes. But, at the end of that list, there’s a caveat. You’ll also be eligible if your doctor determines one or more of the following applies:
- The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
- Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual's ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
- Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual's disability
Dr. Ghazala Sharieff with Scripps Health says figuring out who that applies to poses quite a challenge.
“It puts the burden on the physician to decide you can get one you can’t and I think that’s very unfair to put a physician in that spot and for a patient as well when they’re trying to lobby for themselves.”
Patients will have to get a note from their doctor saying they’ve deemed them eligible for the vaccine. With hundreds of thousands of patients at Scripps alone, that’s a logistical nightmare. Scripps is pushing out letters to patients who qualify to avoid being overwhelmed with people calling to get approved.
“As more criteria comes out, we can send those letters to you so you don’t have to call,” said Sharieff. “It’s going to cause a lot of undue stress on the patients and on the physicians.”
Even if you’re lucky enough to get that coveted doctor’s note, you’re still not guaranteed to get the vaccine since there’s not enough supply.
Sharieff fears they’ll run into the same challenge they had when the vaccine first came out.
“We had over 200,000 patients that met criteria and we only had 10,000 doses. I’m really afraid the same thing is going to happen again.”
Kaiser Permanente released this statement to ABC 10News:
“The state of California’s eligibility expansion to people with health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious risk from COVID-19 makes sense and is the right next step from a public health perspective.
However, demand for the vaccine still outweighs our supply and we are working diligently to administer the vaccine to the communities we serve as equitably and efficiently as possible.”
Scripps patients that fall into the state’s guidance for underlying conditions will be able to make their vaccine appointments using their online portal starting March 15. They're urging their members be patient with the process as vaccine supply remains limited.