Trifecta of concerns

Patients enter Levi’s Stadium to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 9 2021 in Santa Clara. The 49ers arena opened on Tuesday as a vaccine distribution site for Santa Clara County residents 65 and older and is expected to inoculate up to 15,000 people per day once supplies become available. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

Patients enter Levi’s Stadium to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 9 2021, in Santa Clara. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

California is slated to launch on Monday its new vaccine distribution system helmed by Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente — one that will inherit longstanding concerns over supply, equity and speed.

Here’s a closer look at where things stand with California’s vaccine rollout ahead of the major transition.

— Supply. The 1 million doses flowing into California this week is “simply not enough,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said recently. After running out of doses Thursday, Los Angeles was forced to close the mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium and four other locations through at least Monday. But supply is ramping up elsewhere: CVS Health will today begin vaccinating Californians at certain pharmacy locations, though most appointments have already been snapped up.

— Equity. If the state adheres to the timeline Newsom announced on Monday, it will today launch a vaccination demographics dashboard and a framework to prioritize Californians with disabilities and underlying health conditions. Newsom and lawmakers are also expected to unveil a school reopening package today with a priority framework for teachers — though some didn’t need to wait. Teachers at an expensive private school in North Hollywood managed to obtain vaccines through a “special program,” despite Los Angeles County educators not yet being eligible for doses. Meanwhile, questions have emerged over the state’s current guidelines, which permit cannabis workers to get doses alongside frontline health care workers.

— Speed. California now ranks 30th nationwide in the number of doses administered per capita, a significant improvement from last month, when it ranked 45th. But time is of the essence: More contagious strains of the virus are spreading, and on Wednesday Newsom announced California’s first two cases of the South Africa variant, which is thought to reduce vaccine efficacy.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 3,371,556 confirmed cases (+0.3% from previous day) and 45,456 deaths (+1% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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