By Brooke Ruth, Tarryn Mento
Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dr. Christian Ramers responds to your questions about vaccine storage, distribution and when certain groups will be eligible to get the vaccine. Ramers is the assistant medical director with Family Health Centers of San Diego and an adjunct assistant professor specializing in infectious diseases at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health. He also sits on San Diego County’s vaccine clinical advisory group.

Vaccine Questions

Q: Doug Shimansky of Rancho Penasquitos asks: “So, the question I have is my sister-in-law and my friend both got their vaccines up in Northern California and they’re 65 and older. Why do we have the delay in San Diego? Is it because we don’t have enough vaccines or we just aren’t able to handle the distribution?”

Part of the reason is because you have several different entities giving their own guidelines of who gets the vaccine next. Remember, this started with the National Academy of Sciences and then the CDC has the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The state of California has now stepped in and they’re pushing some guidelines out as well. And it’s trying to balance many competing factors. We don’t want these guidelines to slow down the distribution of vaccines.

And then vaccine numbers are being distributed at different rates to different counties. So the reason some people in lower tiers may be getting vaccine first is because a vaccinating entity may have leftover doses that they wanted to reserve for a higher tier, such as Phase 1A or health care workers and let’s say some people miss the appointment or decline the vaccination, what do they do with those leftover doses? I think everybody has said that you are encouraged to use them in lower tiers.

There’s also been a little bit of mixed messaging coming from the state where the state says Phase 1B is age 65 and up, whereas we know that people age 75 and up are higher risk, and that’s what the original recommendation was. So different counties and different entities are at slightly different levels there. We’re all moving towards the same thing and I think it’s going to be just a matter of the supply pushing through where we’re going to get through these phases in an orderly fashion.

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