An old problem presents new challenge in effort to end pandemic

On Thursday Santa Clara County became the latest Bay Area region to allow people 16 years and older to get vaccinated against COVID. But that news is tempered by the unfortunate reality of many people having a hard time booking appointments.

"It’s not really benefiting me right now because I can’t get an appointment," said Alameda County resident Don Aitchison.

He lives in one of 12 Alameda County zip codes hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, that county’s health department began allowing residents in that group who are ages 16 and above to sign up for a vaccination slot.

In an email to KTVU, the health department wrote in part, "This approach helps us reach our equity goals and serve communities that have borne a disproportionate burden throughout the pandemic."

But Aitchison said the new mandate hasn’t filtered down to his private provider, which won’t allow him to make an appointment, because he’s younger than 50 years of age.

"Who can I make an appointment with for this week that has become available?" said Aitchison.

Adding to the ongoing frustration factor, Johnson & Johnson is sending four million fewer doses of the vaccine nationally next week. Officials said that translates into a 90% reduction in vaccines from the drugmaker for California.

"The susceptible population is still large, and the vaccine shortage will just take that much longer to get people vaccinated when they need to be," said Dr. Marchelle Dougan, an assistant professor in the San Jose State University Department of Public Health and Recreation.

Santa Clara County health officials are also allowing residents ages16 and older to make vaccination appointments. But they admit, administering the shots is dependent on supply, which is becoming more restricted.

"The one good thing is that the federal government is supplying some of our local pharmacies. So CVS, Costco, and Walgreens, they have vaccines. They are going to be getting more vaccines. So people can also sign up with them," said Dr. Marty Fenstesheib, the Santa Clara County Covid-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer.

He said patience through the long process is just as important as wearing a mask.