San Diego's vaccine allotment disappoints despite addition of Johnson & Johnson

Petco Park vaccination super station
Posted at 7:20 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 22:22:25-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Despite the arrival of the new Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, San Diego County’s weekly allotment of doses fell short of expectations.

County health officials had hoped the single-dose vaccine would swiftly boost the region’s overall supply.

Instead, the county expects to receive nearly 50,000 doses of the three authorized vaccines this week. That’s roughly the same total San Diego County received last week when it only had access to the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, according to county spokesman Michael Workman.

By Tuesday, the county expects to gather 21,060 doses of Pfizer, 14,400 doses of Moderna and 14,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will begin administering the J &J vaccine Tuesday at the Balboa Park municipal gym. CVS pharmacies began rolling out the new shots on Saturday.

The combined total is “much lower than we had hoped for,” Workman said via email. “This means with the exception of the J & J we will be focused again on working on the second dose backlog.”

Because of bad weather and other supply disruptions in February, the Petco Park Super Station and other sites have had to postpone many second dose appointments, particularly for individuals who received the Moderna vaccine.

The delay for some is now approaching or exceeding the recommended threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderna’s labeling information calls for a second dose 28 days after the first, but the CDC says the second vaccine can be safely delayed up to 42 days if necessary.

Carlsbad resident Michael Atkinson, 77, and his wife Susan were on day 45 of their wait on Monday.

“We’re growing concerned,” Michael Atkinson said. “We’re just hanging,” added Susan.

The Atkinsons said UC San Diego Health, which operates the Petco Park site, cancelled and rescheduled their second-dose appointment on four occasions due to low supply.

UCSD was able to accommodate the Atkinsons with an appointment Monday afternoon after ABC 10News inquired about their situation.

“We deeply apologize for the experience that this family, and others, have encountered as we try to manage through this national vaccine shortage. This experience has been horribly frustrating for the community as well as distressing for us as health care providers,” UCSD Health Executive Director of Communications Jacqueline Carr said in a statement.

During the surge of cases, state health officials directed providers to administer as many first doses as possible. “Unfortunately, due to supply chain and weather issues, the supply for second doses has been sporadic and unpredictable, at best,” Carr said.

As of late February, nearly three million Americans were left waiting more than the targeted 28 days for a second dose.

The optimal interval between doses is still not known. UCSD spokesman Scott Lafee said the university’s doctors do not believe delays longer than 42 days will weaken the effectiveness of the second dose. With some vaccines, a longer wait actually improves efficacy, he noted.

Regardless, UCSD Health said it was committed to quickly distributing second doses.

“Be assured that we are doing our best to vaccinate those waiting for their second dose of Moderna as soon as possible,” Carr said. “In collaboration with BlueShield, we hope to have a more consistent supply to finish all second doses of Moderna this month of March.”

The Petco Park site is currently open only for second doses of the Moderna vaccine, Carr said.