A healthcare worker holds a tray full of COVID-19 vaccine doses at Dignity Health in Santa Cruz County on Jan. 21, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Vaccine Watch

Fauci more cautious on COVID-19 vaccine rollout, pushing ‘open season’ to late May or June

Last week, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert said the U.S. could see open vaccine distribution by April. On Tuesday, he pushed that timeline back.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, offered on Tuesday a more cautious note about when vaccines might be more fully available across the country.

Last week, Fauci said the country could see “open season” for COVID-19 vaccine doses by April. However, in an appearance on “L.A. Times Today,” he said the timeline may be more like “late May and early June.”

“We were expecting a greater number of doses from Johnson & Johnson, and it looks like, even though it’s a good vaccine, that we’re not going to have a substantial amount of doses until we get into April and May,” he said during the program, which is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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“So I think it’s probably going to be a little bit later than the date that I had originally thought, because I was not anticipating that we would have this much of a problem with the number of doses.”

Vaccine shortages have dogged California and other states, causing confusion and long lines.

Los Angeles County and other parts of California have had to limit the number of appointments for people looking to receive their first vaccine dose in order to ensure they can provide second shots.

That issue is expected to continue this week.

“Our city has the tools, the infrastructure and the determination to vaccinate Angelenos swiftly and safely — we simply need more doses,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Monday.

So far, about 8.1 million vaccine doses have been delivered throughout California, and more than 6.1 million have been administered, according to data compiled by The Times.

Similar shortages are plaguing other parts of the state as well. San Francisco was forced to temporarily pause operations at its Moscone Center and City College vaccination sites because of diminished supplies, according to a public health statement issued Sunday.

Starting March 15, people ages 16 to 64 who are disabled or at high risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 will be able to receive vaccinations in California — expanding the total number of residents who can get the shots from 17 million to 20 million.

But officials warn that actually getting a shot will be challenging until more supplies are available.

Fauci still expressed optimism Tuesday that spring will see “a sharp escalation in the number of people that get vaccinated and very little wait for people to get vaccinated.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.