SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As many eligible San Diegans struggle to get a coronavirus vaccine, Scripps Health says it has started to reach out to patients directly to administer shots.
Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, chief medical officer at Scripps Health, says the system has already reached out to patients 65 and older to book an appointment to receive a vaccination after the system had a surplus of vaccines from those made available to its healthcare workers.
Between Tuesday and Friday, the system will administer 6,800 vaccinations to patients 65 and older. Those reservations were booked in just two hours after the system reached out to eligible patients, according to Sharieff. Scripps Health has about 150,000 patients in that age group.
"It’s just a small drop in the bucket, but we feel like every drop counts and the faster we can get the vaccine out there, the faster there’s a light at the end of this very dark tunnel," Sharieff told ABC 10News anchor Vanessa Van Hyfte.
Scripps is holding a second dose of the vaccine for those who receive their first vaccination, despite officials earlier this month recommending states consider not holding back the second dose.
"Until we get other guidance that we’re not supposed to do the two-dose regimen that is our promise to our staff and our patients," says Sharieff.
Sharieff said that a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — whether Pfizer's or Moderna's — is a necessary step to ensure protection.
"The second dose is important because it adds a second layer of protection," Sharieff said. "That still means you have to follow all the guidelines … Until we get to that point, that herd immunity that you’ve heard about, we still need to be careful."
But many are finding that getting the first coronavirus dose is hard enough at the moment in San Diego County and California.
A county spokesperson told Van Hyfte that the county is expecting a shipment of vaccines on Tuesday, but could not say what the region's vaccine total stood at. Individuals 65 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the county starting on Jan. 25.
For seniors having trouble scheduling an appointment with the county, the spokesperson recommended that those eligible for a vaccine reach out to their healthcare provider.
But Sharieff said patients should not try to call their Scripps doctor directly or try to walk-in for a vaccine.
"The logistics behind this are tremendous … we just ask for patience as we roll this out," said Sharieff.
Sharieff said Scripps patients should make sure they are signed up with a MyScripps online account to ensure they are notified of when they can get a vaccine through the provider. Depending on the supply of available vaccines, the healthcare provider will reach out.
She added that eligible patients should be comfortable getting the vaccine via the county, a pharmacy, or their healthcare provider.
"Get the vaccine where you can get it," Sharieff said.