Monitoring the COVID vaccine supplies has revealed a deeper supply and demand issue. Some parts of the world and even parts of the United States are in dire need of more vaccine.
At the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, officials are in the midst of trying to convince more people in the county to get vaccinated.
The county is a good example of why them having more vaccine shots than people are using doesn’t mean there’s a surplus.
At one time, Santa Clara County desperately needed more COVID-19 vaccine shots. But when hundreds of thousands of extra doses recently arrived from the federal government, county officials now say that they have more than it’s administering.
“We have this precious amount of vaccine that other parts of the world don’t have and we need to use it and we need to protect ourselves to help with the whole global approach,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer for Santa Clara County.
South Bay congressman Ro Khanna said other countries including India and Brazil could use some of the U.S. surplus vaccine. He wants the U.S. to send more supplies.
“Urgently to get the vaccine there,” he said. “Not just the Astra Zeneca but to license the Moderna and Pfizer formulas, so India can start to make the vaccines.”
Numerous states are now reporting a vaccine surplus. In fact, states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Kansas have asked the government to stop or limit shipments.
But Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez points out vaccine is doled out by population and not by demand.
“Right now, we don’t have extra vaccine,” she said. “We have people that need to get vaccinated.”
Officials also say the fragile nature of vaccines means there are other factors we need to understand.
“Storage. How much we can actually hold? And out allocation comes to us every week. So, you know, we may have vaccine today. We may not have enough next week,” said Dr. Rocio Luna, Dep. County Executive.
Fenstersheib said he hopes in the next couple of months that California officials and federal government will determine whether the county has extra vaccine and then, they can share it with the rest of the world.
It really will be the states and the federal government’s decision to make. For the cities and counties, the priority will remain trying to convince as many people as possible to get shots. Then, make sure there’s enough.