TownHall Meeting: The Importance of the Vaccine


Voice & Viewpoint Staff Writer

Voice & Viewpoint held a TownHall meeting last Thursday, February 11 with Dr. Wilma Wooten, County of San Diego Public Health Officer and Mr. Nick Macchione, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency Director. Here are excerpts from the discussion. Visit our video section to view the complete discussion.

V&V: To get an appointment, some people spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone. They get frustrated. Is there any way do away with the appointment requirement?

Dr. Wooten (WW): You don’t need a doctor’s note, but because we have limited vaccines, we want to make sure that the priority groups that are open for getting the vaccines get them. So we’re asking [the public] to make the appointment. I know that might be frustrating for people but it helps us to ensure that individuals are being vaccinated with the resources that we have available. When you make your first appointment, very soon thereafter, and sometimes at the same time, you get your appointment for the second dose.

Mr. Nick Macchione (NM): I’d add that the prior federal administration really didn’t lay the groundwork and left it to the states, to the locals, so there was a feeling of scrambling. We wish we had more time but the sense of urgency for us was moving quickly. We need to make sure we do it in an equitable way.

V&V: How else is the vaccine being distributed and how can people find out where to go?

WW: Vaccines come to our region in several ways. There’s local health jurisdictions, several providers are signed up. We get the vaccines and we push it out to those providers. Then there are what’s called the “multiple county entities,” like UCSD, because they have hospitals all over the state. They get vaccines directly from the state. Then there’s the program that the CDC has with CVS and Walgreens. CDC sends those vaccines directly to those two pharmacies. The current administration will soon send vaccines directly to local pharmacies. Ralphs or other small community pharmacies also get vaccines from us. Then there’s Federal vaccinations through the military and even correctional facilities. Four big buckets of how vaccines get to our region.

V&V: How can you tell if a site is legitimate and not a scam?

NM: Any place that charges you, walk away. There should be no site that charges you, number one. Number two, if they’re not on our county website – red flag! Number three, ask for some information about that site. If they’re asking for your legal status or social security, run away.

Dr. Wooten: One caveat: private practices. They can charge the insurance, the administration fee, but they cannot charge a fee for the actual vaccine.

Wherever you schedule your appointment, whatever is available, take the vaccine that’s available. It’s very important that whatever you start with, you finish with. So that’s another reason to schedule your appointments.

See our video section for the full town conversation!

Unlike many news organizations, Voice & Viewpoint delivers content that matters to you. Help us keep it that way by making a generous donation for as low as $2. Your support will fund local, investigative journalism for the community, by the community.