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Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause slows down effort to vaccinate San Diego's homebound seniors

Posted at 4:23 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 17:59:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slowing down the already complicated process of vaccinating San Diego County’s homebound seniors.

So far, just under 600 have received a COVID-19 vaccine through the county’s partnership with hospitals and firefighters, according to a county spokesperson.

Serving Seniors, which provides many different services to low-income residents, has been in talks with county officials and 211 San Diego to help vaccinate its homebound individuals. Still, without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine it’s challenging to implement the plan to go door to door.

“Because of the transportation issues, we were really counting on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to solve that problem,” said Edith Glassey, the Chief Philanthropy Officer for Serving Seniors. “Now that it’s open to everyone, we’re really hoping they make seniors who are homebound a priority.”

The pause hasn’t really impacted UCSD Health. Aside from helping the county, UCSD Health has been able to vaccinate its home confined members through a program called At Home, using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines only.

“We’ve been subject to the limited supply just like everyone else. We confirm when the vaccine is available, and we make sure we’re getting that dosing out to the patients as quickly as we can,” said Lindsey Pierce, assistant director of UC San Diego Health at-home services with Population Health.

Pierce said about 300 homebound patients have been vaccinated this way since February.
More help may be on the way.

The week the state announced, the California Department of Public Health, along with the third-party administrator, Blue Shield California, will be partnering with the California Emergency Medical Services Authority to send out ambulance strike teams to vaccinate homebound people across the state.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county has put in a request to receive that help locally.

“We have requested and expect we will get one here in san San Diego, and these will be teams that will be assisting in the effort around homebound seniors.”

It’s unclear when strike teams could arrive in San Diego, but Fletcher said he is confident they are coming.