SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – On February 27th, about 80,000 K-12 school employees became eligible for vaccines in San Diego County. But fewer than 30,000 have used the state’s designated portal sign up.
“We’re starting to see demand for appointments decline,” said Bob Mueller with the County Office of Education.
California has designated the Voluntary Employees Benefit Association (VEBA) to set up appointments. VEBA sent out individual emails to school staff to schedule vaccines with UCSD or Sharp. When participants use the portal it allows the county to see how many people have accessed the site.
But, Mueller says there’s a flaw in the reporting system. If someone doesn’t use the portal and instead gets vaccinated by their own doctor or a pharmacy, the county can’t see those numbers.
“What we don’t’ know is how many people have used the other avenues that they could access,” said Mueller. “If someone goes to CVS, Walgreens, or Rite-Aid for a vaccination, there’s no way to see how many of those people work at K-12 schools.”
They know about 29,000 people have been vaccinated through the site. But the number of actual vaccinations could be much higher.
“The question is, how to do we know when we’re done?” said Mueller.
The county can’t ask teachers and staff to self-reporter their vaccinations because of privacy and HIPPA laws.
“I doubt that it means that people are choosing to not get vaccinated in high numbers,” said Mueller. “I think what it means is that we don’t have a way to determine how many people have been vaccinated.”
The county currently reserves up to 20% of their vaccine supply for K-12 staff. Mueller says they’re now reaching out to districts, charter, and private schools to make sure everyone who wants a vaccine takes advantage of it while it lasts.
“As demand starts to wane, UCSD and Sharp have personnel that they dedicated to this this effort and they’re needed other places and those doses are also needed other places,” said Mueller. “We don’t miss anyone we want to get everyone now.”
While the county reserves up to 20% of the vaccine supply for teachers that percentage is based on demand. If the demand isn’t there they open those doses up to other populations.