San Diego County tops 2 million with at least one vaccine dose

People wait in line to get COVID-19 vaccines at a converted former Sears building at Chula Vista Center in March.
People wait in line to get COVID-19 vaccines at a converted former Sears building at Chula Vista Center in March.
(Kristian Carreon / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

State lottery shows no early signs of turning those reluctant to get COVID-19 shot


San Diego County’s vaccine tracker passed the 2 million mark over the weekend, indicating that nearly two-thirds of the region’s population have received at least one dose.

Now listed at 2,071,589 on the county’s COVID-19 vaccine tracking website, the total puts the region in easy striking distance of the 2.1 million goal that is 75 percent of the 2.8 million eligible residents age 12 and older, the “herd immunity” goal set by the county health department.

Herd immunity is the point at which enough of a population is resistant to infection that a pathogen can no longer spread quickly.

That means there are still more than 700,000 vaccine-eligible residents who have not yet come forward.

It’s a dosing duality not lost on Nick Macchione, director of the county health and human services agency. On one hand, surpassing 2 million doses is somewhat magical given that other vaccination efforts, such as yearly flu shots, generally struggle to surpass 1 million. On the other hand, many more could benefit and doses are starting to pile up in freezers nationwide.

“We do have to feel good as a region to be where we are with more than 2 million doses and still increasing, but at a very much slower pace,” Macchione said. “But I’m disappointed that there are still people out there, with all of the preponderance of the evidence we have now, that there are still people who are waiting to see.”

A county official said Monday, June 7, that state notification of doses received by San Diego County residents in locations outside of the region helped push the local total past 2 million Friday, June 4. It was not immediately clear how many doses fell into that category.

And there remains a discrepancy between local totals and those listed elsewhere. The California Health and Human Services Agency’s official vaccine tracker database lists San Diego County as having administered 2.271 million doses, about 200,000 more than the county claims in its official total.

Macchione said his department is in conversations with the state about the discrepancy, but added that he believes the local total is the correct one. San Diego, he said, is meticulous about verification of the records that feed into its vaccine registry.

“We’re going to stand behind what we know we can verify,” Macchione said. “What we have in our system is names of people, dates, and what kind of dose they got.

“We’ve asked the state to help us understand why there is a difference.”

There is an even larger discrepancy at the federal level between the locally listed number of San Diego County residents said to have been fully vaccinated and the number listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both the California Department of Public Health and the San Diego County health department list 1.6 million San Diego County residents as fully vaccinated, but the CDC’s tally is just under 1.2 million.

Macchione said he is confident that the local numbers are correct, but said he is not sure why the CDC total is so far behind.

“Can you imagine the job they have staying current with the entire nation?” Macchione said. “I’m assuming there are a lot of delays and a lot of data piled up that they’re trying to get through.”

Some might wonder if the state’s “Vax to Win” lottery, which awarded its first 15 $50,000 prizes last week, pushed San Diego past the 2 million mark?

So far, there is no evidence that’s the case.

According to the state’s daily vaccination data repository, there have been 588,912 doses delivered statewide during the 11-day period from May 27, when the governor announced the lottery, through June 6, the most recent day for which data is available.

By comparison, the state lists a total of 967,622 doses for the 11 days prior to the lottery announcement.

It is certain that the number during the lottery period will increase because there can be as much as a three-day lag between when doses go into arms and when they’re reported to the state public health department. So, the currently listed numbers for June 4 through June 6 will increase in the coming days, though not likely enough for the lottery period to equal, let alone exceed, the pre-lottery period.

So far, no lottery-induced spike in vaccination activity is visible in the numbers.

The state, though, does not seem too disappointed in the outcome so far.

In an email sent early Monday evening, June 7, the California Department of Public Health noted that it has seen some positive indicators in lower totals.

“As a result of this program, the state has successfully slowed down the declining rate of doses administered for Californians aged 12+ from a 32 percent drop in the week prior to the program launch to 14 percent in our first Vax for the Win week,” the statement said. “We have also seen an uptick in first doses administered, which are now outpacing the rate we experienced during the introduction of the 12- to 15-year-old eligibility.”

Monday’s new-case total once again fell under 100, hitting 67 after two straight days over 120. The number of residents hospitalized for COVID-related reasons remained under 100 for the fourth-straight day, landing at 92 on Sunday, June 6.

— Paul Sisson is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune