It’s been nearly a year since we started the battle against COVID-19, and in that time all our lives have been changed — and far too many have dealt with great personal loss. After months of physical distancing and caring for one another’s health and safety, news of the vaccine rollout offers great hope — and new challenges.
Our next challenge is vaccine supply
The recent Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization of 2 vaccines, and the anticipated authorization of several more vaccines in the coming weeks, are important steps toward the end of the pandemic. The unfortunate reality is that the number of vaccine doses being produced and distributed is currently not enough to meet the need — and it will be several months before vaccine supply in the U.S. approaches what is required.
At Kaiser Permanente, we care for more than 9.3 million Californians — and we’ve received only a fraction of the vaccine needed to vaccinate our health care workers and our members. At the time of this writing, we’ve received approximately 300,000 doses across the state and we’re acting quickly to vaccinate those who are eligible as soon as we receive the vaccine.
The shortage of vaccine doses and the uncertainty about the timing of vaccine availability worries everyone. The state of California must allocate the limited COVID-19 vaccine supply it receives from the federal government to 58 California counties and 9 multi-county entities, including Kaiser Permanente. We’re currently receiving a total of approximately 40,000 vaccine doses per week in California. We, like the state, are not permitted to purchase more vaccines directly from the manufacturer.
We look forward to the day when there is enough vaccine for all our members and communities.
We’ve received inquiries about our preparation and have heard your concerns about the limited number of available vaccine appointments. Please know that Kaiser Permanente has the capacity and is prepared to administer more than 200,000 vaccines per week in California — our only limitation is the availability of and access to the vaccine. We understand the frustration and inconvenience this has caused for you and we’ll continue to do all we can to increase the supply of vaccines, working in partnership with state and federal governments.
To ensure the vaccines we do receive are distributed appropriately, we’re following the direction of California health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state recently announced expanded vaccine prioritization guidelines to include everyone age 65 and older — increasing eligibility by nearly 6 million people in California. However, due to the limited vaccine supply, we’re still in the process of vaccinating front-line health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and those over the age of 75. Within the age band, our priority has been to vaccinate those at highest risk of exposure or complications due to COVID-19.
We’re committed to vaccinating those over the age of 65 as soon as needed supply becomes available. And as supply increases, we’ll continue to expand priority groups to include additional age bands, risk factors, and occupations as directed by the state.
In the meantime, we’ll continue providing vaccines we receive at each of our medical office buildings. We believe there will be an increase in supply in the coming weeks, and in anticipation of more vaccine, we’re prepared to open additional locations and use mobile clinics. We’re also working in partnership with state and local government agencies and other health care providers and businesses to open high-volume COVID-19 vaccination hubs across the state.
Staying connected as vaccine supply increases
The road to the COVID-19 vaccine has been long and challenging, and we’ll continue to do whatever it takes to keep our members and communities safe and healthy.
We’ll continue to provide updates as we make progress. Please visit kp.org/covidvaccine or call our recorded vaccine message hotline at 1‑855‑550‑0951 for the latest information.
Please continue to protect yourself and your loved ones — wear a mask, wash your hands, and physically distance. Your health remains our top priority — today, tomorrow, and always.
Greg A. Adams
Chairman and CEO