Home News Sutter Health may cancel up to 90,000 vaccine appointments because of insufficient supply – San Francisco Chronicle

Sutter Health may cancel up to 90,000 vaccine appointments because of insufficient supply – San Francisco Chronicle

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Sutter Health is canceling or postponing 40,000 vaccine appointments for second-dose shots, including at its nine mass vaccination sites in Northern California, because it does not have enough vaccine supply, Sutter said Tuesday.

Those appointments had been scheduled to occur between now and March 9. Sutter may also have to cancel or postpone an additional 50,000 vaccine appointments that have been scheduled for March 10 and later if it does not receive more vaccine supply from the state.

Sutter is calling or emailing affected patients to notify them, and is aiming to reschedule the appointments in the next seven to 10 days. If Sutter gets more vaccine, it may be able to avoid some cancellations. Most of the affected patients are 65 and older or health care workers. Sutter’s mass vaccination sites include the SF Market in the Bayview.

“We have been urgently requesting the additional allocations we need from the state in order to prevent canceling the more than 90,000 second dose vaccination appointments currently on our books,” Sutter spokesperson Monique Binkley Smith said in a statement. “This is an extremely unfortunate situation for our patients, and one that is avoidable if we can get additional vaccine supply.”

People who have their second-dose appointments canceled or postponed by Sutter can try to make an appointment elsewhere to get their second shot, such as Walgreens, CVS or another vaccination site. They should bring their vaccination card from the first dose so vaccinators know whether to give them the Pfizer or Moderna shot.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should be administered either three or four weeks apart, give or take, but the CDC has said the second dose can be given up to six weeks later.

Unreliable vaccine supply has been a problem throughout the vaccination campaign. Some vaccination sites have had to suspend first-dose appointments because they had to use their vaccine supply to fulfill second-dose appointments for the people that got first-dose shots a few weeks prior. Health care providers and local health departments generally get just a few days’ notice on how many doses they will receive. Last month, Kaiser had to cancel 5,200 vaccine appointments in Santa Clara County because it did not receive enough vaccine.

Sutter was assured it would get enough vaccine from the state to honor the 40,000 second-dose appointments, but it has yet to receive the supply it requested. Vaccinators have been instructed to do as many first-dose shots as possible and not hold back vaccine for second doses, and that enough vaccine would come later for second doses.

Vaccine allocations are largely handled by the state, which gets its vaccine allocation from the federal government and decides how many doses go to providers like Sutter and to county public health departments. There are a few exceptions, such as some pharmacies that get doses directly allocated from the federal government.

“Every county, every state, every country wishes they had more vaccines and it’s constrained by manufacturing, but California continues to work closely with the Biden administration to increase supply for providers statewide,” said Sami Gallegos, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccine task force.

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Blue Shield of California, which manages vaccine distribution on the state’s behalf, did not immediately respond to a question about why Sutter’s vaccine allocation was less than what it requested. Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich told ABC 7 News that data from Sutter was “not getting cleanly through to the state,” leading the state to incorrectly believe for many weeks that Sutter had “a large inventory of doses.”

“We are going to be putting a lot more doses toward Sutter in the next couple of weeks so that they can reschedule those appointments as opposed to cancel them,” Markovich said.

Catherine Ho is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cho@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Cat_Ho

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