Kaiser Permanente canceled more than 5,200 vaccination appointments in Santa Clara County due to a lack of supply, leaving some of the South Bay’s most vulnerable patients confused and frustrated.
Janet Gillis, a Kaiser patient, had her vaccination scheduled for Feb. 1 — but it was abruptly canceled. She and her husband both received an email three days before their appointment notifying them of the change.
“I understand Kaiser has not been given enough vaccine,” Gillis told San José Spotlight. “What pisses me off is that they had said they would honor the appointments they had made and then went back on their word.”
The appointments were scheduled between Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, the hospital says. The appointments were scheduled at all the South Bay locations, including San Jose and Santa Clara.
Kaiser officials said they booked more appointments than vaccines and couldn’t keep up.
“Last week, in a very unfortunate development, we had to cancel some vaccination appointments in our Santa Clara area because we did not receive the vaccine supplies anticipated when the appointments were made, estimated on previous vaccine deliveries and guidance from the state and county,” a Kaiser spokesperson said. “We understand the frustration this causes, and we are continuing to do all we can to increase the supply of vaccines, working in partnership with county, state and federal governments.”
About 750 of the appointments were for patients 75 years and older. Kaiser said these appointments “are being rescheduled as soon as possible.”
Another 4,500 of the appointments were for residents 65 to 74 years of age.
“We are committed to vaccinating these people when supply is available,” Kaiser officials said.
“We deeply regret the stress this may cause for you,” an email from Kaiser physician Rakesh Chaudhary said. “All our Santa Clara physicians wish we could magically fix the vaccine shortage but it is beyond our control.”
Mike Munday, 72, received his first dose with Kaiser last month and is now awaiting his second. But a friend of his, who is 70 and has diabetes and kidney problems, had his first vaccine appointment with Kaiser canceled.
Though he has an appointment for a second dose, Munday said he is nervous he won’t receive his shot on time because of Kaiser’s cancellations.
“They are not really honoring previously made appointments,” he said. “(It’s) very disappointing… I hope they don’t cancel my second shot.”
In early January, Kaiser began vaccinating people 65 and up as per the state’s guidelines despite Santa Clara County health officials recommending all providers inoculate people 75 and up due to a vaccine shortage.
After vaccinating people 65 and up for several days, Kaiser changed course back to patients 75 years and over. The change put Kaiser in line with the county’s direction to vaccinate people 75 and older due to a countywide shortage in vaccine supply.
“As we receive additional vaccine we are working to reschedule these appointments, prioritizing those 75 years and older,” a Kaiser spokesperson said. “As supplies allow, we will also try to reschedule those 65 to 74 but we will need a significant increase in vaccine supply to schedule this population.”
According to COVID-19 Testing Officer Marty Fenstersheib, more than 80% of deaths from COVID-19 have been in people 65 years and older.
In the meantime, Kaiser officials are telling members they can get shots at any approved provider.
According to the county’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, more than 167,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. About 44,000 second doses have been administered, meaning about 2.2% of the county’s 1.94 million residents have been vaccinated.
According to the same dashboard, Kaiser has about 2,600 vaccination appointments scheduled through Feb. 9.
More information on registration for vaccines can be found at www.sccfreevax.org.