California’s Covid Vaccine Effort Faces Challenges

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California's Covid Vaccine Effort Faces Challenges


[Read about the future of the coronavirus, which scientists predict will become a common childhood cold.]

About 11.1 million people in the U.S. had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a figure that is far short of the 20 million the Trump administration had hoped to reach by Dec. 31. Most have received only the first of the two necessary doses so far, but as of Tuesday at least 541,000 have had both doses, according to a New York Times survey of all 50 states.

California, with its decentralized public health system, is a microcosm of the many problems plaguing the national vaccination effort. The state relies on county health departments to administer vaccines, and Dr. David Lubarsky, the chief executive of U.C. Davis Health, said the counties were up against the same problem they faced when trying to ramp up Covid testing: too little manpower.

Dr. Lubarsky suggested that the state should hand more vaccine doses over to health care providers, who already have the ability to reach out to patients selectively. “Almost everyone has a doctor,” he said, including harder-to-reach patients like those with lower incomes or who are undocumented. “We know who’s at risk,” he said.

Jonah Frohlich, a San Francisco-based health care consultant with Manatt Health Strategies, said that a combination of factors had left county public health departments scrambling to cope with a deluge of monumental tasks.

[Find all of The Times’s vaccine coverage here.]

“The same institutions that are trying to manage testing, contact tracing and supports for people,” Mr. Frohlich said, “are the same people who are managing the distribution of the vaccine.”

Worse, he said, they must work with often outdated and overwhelmed information systems, and organize it all on the fly.



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