About 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses are in freezers waiting to be administered in Santa Clara County, new data shows.
Santa Clara is one of the first counties to release COVID-19 data on how many doses are going to each provider and how many are being used.
As of Thursday, of all the 280,000 doses received by providers, more than 96,000 remain unused.
While larger medical providers like Stanford Health and Kaiser Permanente have administered more than 70% of their doses, smaller providers seem to be struggling, the data revealed.
North East Medical Services (NEMS) in San Jose, which specifically targets underserved Asian communities, had the lowest injection rate with only 12% of their doses administered. They had nearly 2,000 doses waiting.
Two other providers that also serve vulnerable minority populations appear to be having a tough time as well. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) administered 21% of its vaccine supply and had more than a thousand doses remain. And Bay Area Community Health (BACH) administered 22% of its stock and had nearly two thousand doses unused.
“It’s been pretty crazy. There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy in our population as well,” said Dr. Kenneth Tai, NEMS’ Chief Medical Officer. Tai said his organization and other smaller providers and clinics are facing unique challenges reaching some of our community’s most vulnerable populations.
“We literally got the vaccines last week. Just internally we have to train our staff how to do the questionnaire, how do to injections, etc. Most of them are working overtime,” Dr. Tai said.
BACH sent our Investigative Unit an email saying its unused doses are a result of:
- Extreme weather destroying some of their vaccine structures
- Many of their patients are taking the wait-and-see approach
- Getting 75+ year old patients to schedule appointments is an outreach challenge
- Most community clinics don’t have scalable technology platforms for scheduling
“Those that are in disadvantaged communities are most at risk of not receiving the vaccine in a timely matter,” Graham Knaus with California State Association of Counties said. “We are doubling down on our efforts to try to reach those communities in a system that is incredibly complex and changing by the day.”
Smaller providers, like NEMS, said they’ve administered more doses than what's reflected in the data. Currently, there is no uniform county, state or federal vaccination reporting system, so some providers are forced to create their own workflows.
Our Investigative Unit reached out to other counties to compare data, but Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and San Francisco counties have yet to release information based on providers.
“We are trying our hardest trying to get the vaccines into people’s arms, and we want to do the job,” said Dr. Tai.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter at NBC Bay Area. To reach her about this story or others, email her firstname.lastname@example.org.