It's likely California vaccine shortage will turn to surplus this summer
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - President Joe Biden has announced the purchase of 100 million more Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.
Combined with what's already on order, it's more than enough for everyone in the U.S.
As Californians continue to wait for appointments, it's likely that the vaccine shortage will turn to a surplus this summer.
"I feel like we're on the right track, not there yet but super optimistic," said Eve Nelson, emerging from her first dose at a Kaiser vaccination clinic in San Rafael.
With 32 million Americans fully protected and new case numbers plunging, experts are hopeful about the containment of the pandemic.
But the Biden administration wants to stockpile doses, and perhaps share excess supply with other countries, as COVID-19 has no borders.
"A lot can happen, a lot can change and we need to be prepared, " said Biden, announcing the purchase. "I'm doing this because this wartime effort requires maximum flexibility and there's always the possibility we'll encounter unexpected challenges."
On Wednesday, Governor Newsom praised the federal effort.
"I'm proud of the Biden administration for delivering on every single thing they said they would deliver on," said Newsom, speaking at a Southern California vaccination center.
Newsom noted California has administered 11 million doses so far.
He alluded to upcoming changes in the color-coded tier system, which governs business reopening.
"We are working literally on a green tier, and have been for months, in anticipation," said Newsom.
A green tier was shunned last summer when the tier system was developed, to avoid the perception of going back to a pre-pandemic mindset.
But Newsom says conditions are different now.
"Tiers were temporary, they're not permanent and there's something beyond orange and yellow and that green tier will present itself."
California is expected to meet its goal of 2 million doses distributed among low-income zip codes by Friday, which will allow more counties to move to less restrictive tiers.
"I'm an optimistic kind of person, I kind of felt we were coming out of this, on the tail end of this," said Harry Bookstein, after getting his shot at the Kaiser clinic Wednesday evening.
Bookstein was encouraged that Kaiser contacted him, offering an appointment within days, not weeks.
"First person I'm going to hug is my niece and she just had a baby," he said.
Every day, positive news emerges.
Alaska is vaccinating everyone 16 and older, the first state to order such widespread access to the shots.
New York has dropped its minimum age to 60.
Beginning next week, Marin County will begin vaccinating residents age 16 and over with pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.
"No we're not really talking about surpluses here," said Woody Baker-Cohn, assistant emergency manager for Marin County.
Baker-Cohn admits, after everyone who wants a vaccine receives one, attention will shift to those on the sidelines who are hesitant.
As more shots circulate, reluctance tends to fade.
"When friends, colleagues, and family see that someone hasn't had ill effects, then they become interested in getting vaccinated," said Baker-Cohn. "It makes sense, human nature."
It's also human nature that scarcity breeds urgency, and people will relax once vaccine is abundant.
"We won't get to 100 percent just like we don't get 100 percent with polio or measles," said Baker-Cohn, " but like those diseases, anyone unvaccinated is a potential spreader so we want to minimize that."For an increasing number of people securing vaccine appointments, it's momentous.
"They say there will be more coming for those still waiting so I'm just thankful that we got it," said Iva Turaga of San Rafael, exiting the Public Health clinic in San Rafael.