Suppliers across California have now administered 30 million total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – a milestone that, while promising, comes as interest in vaccines may begin to wane.
The abrupt about-face from a situation in which the demand for doses far exceeded supply to a situation where appointments are readily available is alarming to health officials who note that despite all the progress made by California against COVID-19, the battle is not over yet.
“The best tool we have to keep us on this road to recovery is the vaccine,” Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said this week.
Even though the state has taken another important milestone, many residents have yet to roll up their sleeves, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And despite the huge number of doses distributed, California – with its roughly 40 million inhabitants – remains well below the level of vaccine coverage that many experts deem necessary to achieve collective immunity and finally end the pandemic.
To date, 48.5% of all residents and 61.5% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to CDC figures.
But only 30.2% of Californians have completely completed their inoculation course, which means they received the required two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine.
Although estimates vary, the share of the population that would need to be vaccinated to starve the coronavirus out of new people to infect is often set at 80% or more.
And recent data shows that California’s vaccination rate is starting to slow.
For the week ending Monday, providers statewide administered an average of 318,098 doses per day, down about 20% from the statewide peak of 395,328 per day in during the week ending April 11, according to data compiled by The Times.
In LA County, “Almost all providers said they had appointments that were not filled this week. Some had a few, some had a lot, ”Ferrer said Thursday.
“We’re down at least 50% across all of our county sites in terms of appointment filling,” she said in a briefing. “We take a lot of dates, so that makes up for a part, but we’re still going to be down for this week.”
This significant drop, she continued, is “very worrying”.
“Now would not be the time to sort of lose momentum from vaccinations,” she said.
California’s most populous county is not an outlier when it comes to lower dose demand. Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Manager Dr Marty Fenstersheib is also “concerned about the decline in demand for vaccines that we have seen over the past week.”
“We have come this far, but we are not yet clear,” Fenstersheib said in a statement Friday. “Today, I urge everyone to keep getting vaccinated. It will save lives, protect our community from dangerous variants, and help us get out of this pandemic. We will not reach the finish line until everyone who is eligible has been able to participate. “
Many parts of the country are experiencing a similar trend.
This is likely the result of a number of factors – ranging from temporary disruptions in supply due to the recently lifted safety review suspension for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the possibility that many people who wanted to be vaccinated have already done so, leaving only these. who may be more reluctant or reluctant to be vaccinated.
“As we have been successful in getting the lion’s share of those most at risk and most willing to be vaccinated, we are now focusing more and more on other groups that will take time to reach,” Jeff Zients, President Biden’s coordinator. The COVID-19 task force said in a briefing Friday. “And we expect the number of vaccines given each day to be moderate and fluctuating.”
More than 240 million total doses of the vaccine have been administered nationwide, and 43.6% of Americans have received at least one injection, according to CDC data. About 30.5% are considered fully vaccinated.