UCLA nurse Eunice Lee prepares a syringe of a Covid-19 vaccine for health care workers at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Vaccine Watch

Citing ‘ongoing supply issues,’ Sutter canceling second-dose vaccine appointments

Sutter had already paused appointments for first doses throughout its Bay Area service region through March 9. Now, second-dose appointments are being canceled through that date, too.

Sutter Health — one of the three major health systems that serves Santa Cruz County patients — might cancel as many as 90,000 appointments for second vaccine doses, citing supply issues.

Sutter had already paused appointments for first doses throughout its Bay Area service region through March 9, according to a statement from a health system spokesperson. Now, an undisclosed number of second-dose appointments are being canceled through that date, too.

“As a result of continued allocation issues, we are in the process of notifying patients with second dose appointments scheduled through March 9 to let them know that their current appointment needs to be canceled due to insufficient supply, and we will call them in 7-10 days to reschedule,” the statement read.

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“We are also informing these patients that second doses can be delayed according to CDC guidance, and we will work to reschedule them in order of their appointment to minimize further delay.”

The CDC has released guidance recommending that if the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines cannot be administered at the recommended time interval (21 to 28 days, depending on the vaccine), it “may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.”

Sutter’s announcement came on the same day that President Joe Biden announced plans to dramatically increase vaccine production and distribution nationwide. It was unclear how many Santa Cruz County patients might be affected.

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As many as 90,000 second-dose appointments could be canceled, according to the Sutter statement.

“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,” the statement read. “This is an extremely unfortunate situation for our patients, and one that is avoidable if we can get additional vaccine supply.”

Last month, another major health system serving the Santa Cruz area — Kaiser Permanente — said it was receiving a “disproportionately small share of vaccine” from the state given the size of the population it serves.

Vaccine Watch

Lookout’s Vaccine Watch, the latest on vaccine distribution countywide, is among eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of the pandemic. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here, and leave feedback and ask questions at the end of this story.

On its website Tuesday, Kaiser posted that “California has increased our weekly vaccine allocation to better match the number of members we serve. For example, next week we’re scheduled to receive 20% of California’s vaccine supply.

“As we get more supply, we’ll continue to include additional groups by looking at age, health risks, and job types.”

Sutter/PAMF, Kaiser and Santa Cruz County’s third large health provider, Dignity/Dominican, all have begun vaccinating patients 65 and up. To learn more about how to get vaccinated, use this Lookout guide.