While other large California health providers have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility, Kaiser Permanente — which serves the greatest share of the state's health insurance market — has lagged. Now that's about to change.
On Saturday, CEO Greg Adams said in a statement that Kaiser is now reaching out to members 65 and older to schedule vaccine appointments — a result of a big influx in new doses as the state aligns Kaiser's supply with the size of its membership. The provider will start with individuals at highest risk for complications due to COVID-19.
Adams said the company's vaccine share is increasing starting with the receipt of 20% of the state's supply this week, upping Kaiser's capacity to eventually deliver 600,000 doses a week. As a result, the provider is also starting to schedule appointments several weeks in advance.
The company has until now received a disproportionately small share of vaccines from the state, which it says is why its distribution has lagged and it has been able to vaccinate only patients 75 and older. Other providers including Sutter and UCSF moved on to the 65-and-older age group weeks ago.
"With vaccine supply steadily increasing, we look forward to the day when all our members and communities can be vaccinated," Adams said.
As of Saturday, Kaiser Permanente had vaccinated more than 666,000 state residents, including 125,000 health care workers. According to the company, 1 in 4 Californians are Kaiser members. Yet in Northern California, the allotment from the state could not cover its 75-and-older members or even its health care workers.
Santa Clara County felt the scarcity's impact earlier this month when more than 5,200 appointments at Santa Clara Medical Center for older patients had to be canceled .
Kaiser has partnered with vaccine sites including the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and plans to open more hubs and clinics for underserved populations. The company said it will continue to follow state guidelines for vaccine eligibility, prioritizing certain medical conditions, age groups and job industries.
If you are eligible for the vaccine, here's how to make an appointment:
• Call the vaccine info line at 1-855-550-0951 for information on supply increases and appointment availability.
• Visit kp.org/covidvaccine for the latest information.
Patients are asked not to try to book appointments through their primary care doctors.
Kellie Hwang is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter:
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