East Bay Doctor Denied Ability to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines on Her Own

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An East Bay doctor says she’s especially frustrated about the vaccine rollout. Though the state approved her to help give out doses, Contra Costa County said "no thanks."

San Ramon Doctor Melissa McNamara has been closely watching as clinics continue administering vaccinations.

“I felt a call to the cause to help out,” she said, adding she watched a doctor who runs a private practice in Walnut Creek give COVID-19 vaccines in Lafayette a week and a half ago.

McNamara knew she could do the same, she has the space, volunteers and now the equipment to pull it off.

“I went through a process where Cal Vacs has you apply, you give them your credentials, you tell them the equipment you have,” said McNamara.

She invested $15,000 buying equipment like this deep freezer to accommodate the Pfizer vaccine. And after days of making multiple orders to the state and county she was told her help was not needed.

“What I really wanted from Contra Costa County was the ability to help my neighbors who are medical people,” she said.

McNamara said there are about 100 health care workers in her building and many are having trouble getting their vaccinations.

She said workers either can’t get an appointment, or they’re unable to travel to a vaccination site during work hours.

“Every day you see people, it’s scary,” said Jess Gruezo, a phlebotomist who works in McNamara’s building.

The county told NBC Bay Area that McNamara was denied because "with the current vaccine capacity, we have more than enough to administer the vaccine we are getting, so there is no need for additional vaccination sites."

In fact, the county says it’s focusing on setting up bigger vaccination sites in hard hit communities.

But McNamara says something has to change.

“I feel the current system the way it is is not working,” she said.

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