[Update: as of ~4/1, it seems like there are many more unused appointments / extra doses at the end of the day from anecdotes in vaccine hunter groups. I'm strongly in favor of people searching for those / getting vaccinated in that way. Good luck!]
Status: I’ve thought about this / looked up numbers for a couple of hours total. I know lots of people have spent more time on this, so I definitely could be wrong and am interested in arguments about what I’m missing. I haven’t heard compelling counterarguments to what I say below yet.
[Note that I’m obviously pro-vaccine, this post is about how long to wait in line.]
Should I as a <30 year old healthy person in the Bay Area who doesn’t need to interact with the public get vaccinated as of early March if I get the chance? It seems clearly no, with the exception being a situation where it seems likely the vaccine or time slot will go to waste otherwise.
The counterarguments I’ve heard have been along the lines of “it seems a bunch of young people are now getting vaccinated” or “there are a bunch of openings available where the vaccine wouldn’t go to someone else,” which both seem false.
- ~20% of Californians have received a first dose as of March 13, 2021. ~28% in SF, and maybe ~15% in Berkeley (Berkeley number is number of doses, which I'm optimistically estimating as 15k first dose / 5k second dose out of a population of ~100k).
- Let’s say ~60% will eventually get vaccinated (~20% kids and ~20% strong anti-vaccers, I don’t think strong anti-vaccers will be >30% and probably <20% in the Bay Area). That suggests that ~1/3rd of people that will get vaccinated have.
- A random marginal revolution link I read recently said “In the US, however, while 55% of vaccines went to people over 65, close to 30% went to people younger than 50.” This suggests that it has been at least somewhat targeted so far.
- From people I know that have gotten vaccines in the Bay, it sounds like appointments have been booked quickly after being posted / there aren’t a bunch of openings.
- I've recently heard of some "anyone should sign up, we're going to try to vaccinate everyone that we can today" type events, and that type of event does sound more promising / more likely to be in the "time slot wouldn't go to someone else" category.
- It looks like e.g. Berkeley grad students that work virtually are eligible for vaccines and I’ve heard rumors that Berkeley-affiliated people have recommended the grad students get them, but Berkeley hasn’t said this publicly, and an article on it had Alameda Public Health explicitly recommending these people not get vaccinated yet. I haven’t seen evidence they’re doing it in mass.
- The CA guidelines for who can get vaccinated suggest that people with large comorbidities are next, and the guidelines for who should be getting vaccines seem pretty reasonable IMO.
- There are some stories of old people having trouble finding vaccines, although it sounds like most >65 have gotten them.
Overall, the evidence suggests to me that if I got a vaccine that wasn’t an “end of day about to go bad / please sign up we have no one else to come” type:
1) I would be taking a vaccine away from someone else (somewhat by definition, but also anecdotal evidence on appointments being booked seems somewhat strong).
2) most people who are getting vaccines right now are correctly positioned ahead of me (most vaccines have been going to at risk people, only ~1/3rd vaccinated, vs. I’m personally likely in the >80th percentile for health).
3) 1 and 2 suggest the pro-social thing for people like me is to wait / if people want to spend a bunch of time on this, the main thing to look for is vaccination sites that are doing mass-vaccination events.
4) It seems decently likely this will change within the next month / there will be some "anyone that can make it" openings.