A vaccine shortage has forced Kaiser Permanente to cancel more than 5,000 appointments in Santa Clara County for seniors who had been set to receive COVID-19 inoculations.
In what Kaiser spokesman Marc Brown called “a very unfortunate development,” the hospital failed to receive the vaccines it anticipated when people had booked appointments for late January and early February.
Brown said staff had scheduled people for the vaccine based on previous deliveries and “guidance” from the state and county.
“We understand the frustration this causes, and we are continuing to do all we can to increase the supply of vaccines, working in partnership with county, state and federal governments,” Brown said in an email in response to questions from The Times.
When additional vaccines are obtained, Kaiser will reschedule the appointments, prioritizing those 75 years and older, Brown said.
Kaiser also will attempt to reschedule those 65 to 74 years old, “but we need a significant increase in vaccine supply to schedule this population,” he said.
In the meantime, Brown said, people may be able to obtain vaccines from state and county providers.
Kaiser is hardly the only vaccine provider that forced to cancel appointments because of doses that did not arrive as expected. Last week, Ralphs pharmacies in Los Angeles County had to cancel appointments after the county “recovered” 10,000 doses from the chain it wanted used at mass vaccination sites, The Times reported.
For Kaiser, the cancellations included about 750 appointments that had been scheduled from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31 for people 75 and older. An additional 4,500 appointments scheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 for people 65 to 74 years old also were canceled.
In an email to members over the weekend, Kaiser CEO Greg A. Adams said the hospital has the ability to administer 200,000 vaccines a week in California but lacks the doses. He predicted it would take several months before the vaccine supply in the United States approaches what is required.
Kaiser has more than 9.3 million members in California, but has received only about 300,000 doses so far across the state to vaccinate health workers and patients, he said.
Because of the limited supply, Kaiser is limiting vaccines now to healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and people 75 and older, Adams said.
Kaiser anticipates an increase in supply in the coming weeks and is prepared to open additional locations and deploy mobile clinics to administer the doses, he said. Kaiser also is working with state and local governments and other healthcare providers, he said, to open high-volume sites across the state.
One out of every 1,000 Californians has now died of COVID-19. More than half — at least 22,500 Californians — have died of since Nov. 1.
Data collected by The Times found show that about 3.5 million Californians, about 7.2% of the population, have received a vaccine dose as of Monday.