Monday, June 21

Coronavirus: Santa Clara County boosts vaccine effort amid slow rollout – Pacifica Tribune

In an effort to bolster a slowgoing vaccine rollout, Santa Clara County officials on Friday urged all health care personnel to get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and said shots were readily available at medical centers throughout the county.

However, just over three weeks since administering the first dose of the vaccine, fewer than a third of the health care workers in the first phase have been vaccinated, according to the county. Distribution of vaccines that already required intricate storage and transportation has been made more complex by the vast web of stages, phases and tiers, Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, said Friday during a news conference. Overall, the initial rollout has been “encouraging,” she said, and the county was “thrilled with the partnership of all the health care systems to stand up vaccinations.”

As of Friday, Santa Clara County had administered approximately 47,000 of its some 110,000 allotted first doses, according to county officials, leaving more than 90,000 health care workers in Phase 1A who have yet to receive any vaccine. About 17,000 hospital workers will receive their second dose this week. For context, approximately 26,000 county residents have gained at least temporary immunity by contracting the virus itself since the first doses went into arms on Dec. 17.

“We are trying to get through Phase 1A as fast as we can,” Cody said. “It’s an all hands on deck effort. As soon as we are confident that the people eligible to Phase 1A have made their appointment, then we will be able to transition to Phase 1B.”

Just within Phase 1A, there are three separate tiers. Although this week, California invited all health care providers to get vaccinated in the initial stage. Once it reaches Phase 1B, all frontline workers and anyone over age 75 will be eligible. The phases have a “significant layer of complexity,” Cody said.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s COVID-19 testing officer, said he hopes to enter the next phase of vaccinations “some time by the end of the month” but that it depended on the amount of doses the county received.

County officials said they hope to ramp up vaccinations to 6,000 a day by the end of next week, but Cody said the county has no plans to open a 24/7 mass-vaccination site like others popping up across the country. To reach the county’s desired herd immunity threshold — immunity among at least 85% of residents — it will take some 1.6 million inoculations. At its current pace, it would take over two years to reach that goal. At a rate of 6,000 per day, it would take about nine months.

“I’m not a logistics person but even I can appreciate how complex this is,” Cody said. Each of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines has its own “very particular storage and handling” — each demands cold storage or, in Pfizer’s case, subzero — “that means the design pretty much has to be in proximity to the freezer,” Cody said.

Fenstersheib compared the vaccine rollout to getting the county’s testing operation up and running in the initial months of the pandemic.

“It took a considerable effort. It started slow,” he said, noting the county now conducts ten times as many diagnostic tests as it did in the spring. “I think (vaccine distribution) expected to start slowly and we expect it to ramp up … It’s going to take time, but I think we’re going to speed up our effort and get everyone vaccinated in less than two and half years, that’s for sure.”

Any health care personnel, including hospital staff, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, medical first responders, and dialysis centers, home healthcare workers and those in intermediate care facilities, community health workers, public health field staff, primary care clinic workers, workers at specialty clinics, lab workers, dental clinics, and pharmacy staff are all eligible to schedule their vaccine appointment through their health care provider or the county.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *