News

Here's who'll be eligible for the next phases of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

People ages 75 and older, more essential workers would receive shot by month's end in Santa Clara County

Licensed vocational nurse Van Tran receives her first injection of the newly developed coronavirus vaccine while nurse practitioner Kim Butler holds her hands on Dec. 16. They both work at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Photo by Federica Armstrong.

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution program is well underway in Santa Clara County, which could move to the second phase as soon as the end of January, health leaders said during a Friday press conference.

They also outlined how people will be able to get the vaccines and announced a new website, sccfreevax.org, with more information.

Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities who qualify for the first phase of the rollout (Phase 1A) are receiving the initial batches of vaccines. The doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna confer a 95% immunity from the deadly coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Santa Clara County has a current allotment of 110,000 vaccine doses, with more expected, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing officer. The county has 140,000 health care personnel who are eligible for the first round and about 47,000 have already been vaccinated. Out of 6,000 skilled-nursing facility staff, roughly half also have received the vaccine since it arrived around Christmas, Fenstersheib said.

The number of people who have actually been inoculated in the county is higher, however, since the total doesn't account for additional vaccines administered through the federal Veterans Administration health care system and long-term care facilities, he added.

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There could potentially be up to 6,000 vaccinations per day by next week, according to county Supervisor Otto Lee.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said health leaders will open up the vaccines to people in subsequent phases as soon as all eligible persons in a phase are determined to have received the shots.

When Phase 1B opens up, the county will make the doses available to more people in two tiers: Tier 1 would focus on people ages 75 and older, and workers in education, child care, emergency services, food and agriculture. Phase 1B Tier 2 would include older adults ages 65 and older; workers in transportation and logistics; members of industrial, residential and commercial sheltering facilities and services; critical manufacturing employees; incarcerated individuals and homeless people, according to state health officials.

Terry Callahan, a transport specialist at El Camino Health, receives his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Federica Armstrong.

Health care workers can currently receive the vaccines through their health care provider, including Stanford Health Care, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and county facilities, Fenstersheib said. The county also is rolling out mass-vaccination centers and currently has three, with a goal to open a fourth next week, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Cody said the county is aiming for 85% herd immunity, which has been described by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to protect the population. While some people are already protected because they had the infection, Cody said they still recommend everyone to be vaccinated. Even after receiving the doses, people will need to keep wearing their masks, practice social distancing and take other measures necessary to protect their families and others from infection. Even if they have immunity, they could still be carrying the disease, she said.

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By her estimate, about 1.5 million people in Santa Clara County would need to be vaccinated to reach the 85% level.

"We are still in an extraordinarily difficult place" regarding the number of infections spreading throughout the county, she said. Currently, the county is averaging 1,200 new COVID-19 cases per day. Countywide, more than 800 people have died since the virus emerged and the number of available intensive care unit beds is now only 20 to 25 as of the last several days, she said.

"Vaccination is absolutely central to working our way out of this pandemic. We are going to be in a transition period over the next several months," she said.

The health leaders said the vaccine rollout has been somewhat slowed by the strategic complexity of various federal protocols for the two existing vaccines; the stringent requirements, such as deep freezing; the logistics of setting up vaccine clinics near freezers; and fear among the public of the vaccines' safety.

As more people are vaccinated and people see there are relatively few adverse reactions, health leaders are hoping they will increase vaccination rates, they said. The county also keeps track of adverse reactions through the Vaccination Adverse Reaction Reporting System.

The steep spike in infections and the holidays also have contributed to the difficulties, they said. Cody added that the key unknown is what bump they will see in cases in the weeks after the Christmas and New Year's holiday travel.

When county leaders were asked how confident they were in receiving additional vaccine supplies, Fenstersheib said there's no reason to expect the county won't get the needed doses.

"We have no control over the federal government," he said, but added that when President-elect Joe Biden's administration takes power after Jan. 20, they have already committed to ramping up vaccine resources.

Watch the full press conference here:

Santa Clara County health leaders provide an update on the effort to administser COVID-19 vaccine doses to health care workers at a Jan. 8 press conference in San Jose. Courtesy Santa Clara County Public Health Department YouTube channel.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Here's who'll be eligible for the next phases of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

People ages 75 and older, more essential workers would receive shot by month's end in Santa Clara County

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 4:17 pm
Updated: Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 10:18 pm

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution program is well underway in Santa Clara County, which could move to the second phase as soon as the end of January, health leaders said during a Friday press conference.

They also outlined how people will be able to get the vaccines and announced a new website, sccfreevax.org, with more information.

Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities who qualify for the first phase of the rollout (Phase 1A) are receiving the initial batches of vaccines. The doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna confer a 95% immunity from the deadly coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Santa Clara County has a current allotment of 110,000 vaccine doses, with more expected, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing officer. The county has 140,000 health care personnel who are eligible for the first round and about 47,000 have already been vaccinated. Out of 6,000 skilled-nursing facility staff, roughly half also have received the vaccine since it arrived around Christmas, Fenstersheib said.

The number of people who have actually been inoculated in the county is higher, however, since the total doesn't account for additional vaccines administered through the federal Veterans Administration health care system and long-term care facilities, he added.

There could potentially be up to 6,000 vaccinations per day by next week, according to county Supervisor Otto Lee.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said health leaders will open up the vaccines to people in subsequent phases as soon as all eligible persons in a phase are determined to have received the shots.

When Phase 1B opens up, the county will make the doses available to more people in two tiers: Tier 1 would focus on people ages 75 and older, and workers in education, child care, emergency services, food and agriculture. Phase 1B Tier 2 would include older adults ages 65 and older; workers in transportation and logistics; members of industrial, residential and commercial sheltering facilities and services; critical manufacturing employees; incarcerated individuals and homeless people, according to state health officials.

Health care workers can currently receive the vaccines through their health care provider, including Stanford Health Care, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and county facilities, Fenstersheib said. The county also is rolling out mass-vaccination centers and currently has three, with a goal to open a fourth next week, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Cody said the county is aiming for 85% herd immunity, which has been described by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to protect the population. While some people are already protected because they had the infection, Cody said they still recommend everyone to be vaccinated. Even after receiving the doses, people will need to keep wearing their masks, practice social distancing and take other measures necessary to protect their families and others from infection. Even if they have immunity, they could still be carrying the disease, she said.

By her estimate, about 1.5 million people in Santa Clara County would need to be vaccinated to reach the 85% level.

"We are still in an extraordinarily difficult place" regarding the number of infections spreading throughout the county, she said. Currently, the county is averaging 1,200 new COVID-19 cases per day. Countywide, more than 800 people have died since the virus emerged and the number of available intensive care unit beds is now only 20 to 25 as of the last several days, she said.

"Vaccination is absolutely central to working our way out of this pandemic. We are going to be in a transition period over the next several months," she said.

The health leaders said the vaccine rollout has been somewhat slowed by the strategic complexity of various federal protocols for the two existing vaccines; the stringent requirements, such as deep freezing; the logistics of setting up vaccine clinics near freezers; and fear among the public of the vaccines' safety.

As more people are vaccinated and people see there are relatively few adverse reactions, health leaders are hoping they will increase vaccination rates, they said. The county also keeps track of adverse reactions through the Vaccination Adverse Reaction Reporting System.

The steep spike in infections and the holidays also have contributed to the difficulties, they said. Cody added that the key unknown is what bump they will see in cases in the weeks after the Christmas and New Year's holiday travel.

When county leaders were asked how confident they were in receiving additional vaccine supplies, Fenstersheib said there's no reason to expect the county won't get the needed doses.

"We have no control over the federal government," he said, but added that when President-elect Joe Biden's administration takes power after Jan. 20, they have already committed to ramping up vaccine resources.

Watch the full press conference here:

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Olivia Lau
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2021 at 8:24 am
Olivia Lau, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 8:24 am
26 people like this

This is super slow! Waiting for everyone in the preceding category to be vaccinated before moving to the next means that a couple vaccine holdouts can hold up distribution to wider groups. The county should have a more liberal distribution policy so doses do not go to waste (expire, discarded, etc).


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jan 9, 2021 at 1:57 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 1:57 pm
13 people like this

In response to the above comment, my understanding of the inoculation program is that no-vaxers will not slow distribution. They just will be passed over and the next people in line will inoculated. Hope that this is both correct and helpful. Their loss is someone else's gain.


People clogging up the test sites!
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2021 at 7:27 pm
People clogging up the test sites! , Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 7:27 pm
12 people like this

My wife went for her vaccine and found that many people have emailed the sign up link to friends and family. Those friends are family are not yet supposed to get a vaccine but sign up for a spot taking an essential workers spot. When you show up for the vaccine you have to show your ID and proof of work. She witnessed many people being sent home without a vaccine because they never should have signed up. It’s ridiculous! People being selfish are slowing the process for all of us by stealing and wasting the vaccine times (not the vaccine just the available time) from those that should have it.


Nagy Gad
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Jan 11, 2021 at 9:53 am
Nagy Gad, Meadow Park
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 9:53 am
4 people like this

I am over 63 years old and and considered a high risk with Diabetes and other illness. Can you advise when I can get the vaccine please?


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2021 at 5:25 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 5:25 pm
10 people like this

Stunned that the incarcerated and homeless are prioritized ahead of the thousands - millions - of us late-middle-aged taxpayers waiting to be vaccinated! Outrageous in the case of the former, and impractical/slow in the case of the latter.
The U.S. is VERY slow to vaccinate, and needs to get going.
Read today’s PA Daily Post: editorial suggests we Palo Altans should give our vaccines (whenever....now...or maybe July in the case of people like me?...and variety of vaccine offered then: lousy - ? - perhaps not the excellent Pfizer, note which vaccine brand politicians rushed to get vaccinated with, AND two doses ASAP! - what a surprise) to nearby East Palo Alto and unincorporated North Fair Oaks, which are nearby though in a different county, San Mateo.
Because of privilege.
I disagree with this notion.
Beware your local and regional politicians who are eager to give away YOUR vaccine, hardworking taxpayers, to random other persons, uncluding undocumented- who have NO RIGHT to step ahead of us, much less receive any vaccine.
Things are not like this in other states.


Justice
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2021 at 11:35 am
Justice, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 11:35 am
5 people like this

@Anonymous - Wow. I'm disgusted at your implication that the incarcerated or the homeless are somehow less deserving of vaccines than the rest of the wealthy Bay Area population. ALL human lives are equal in worth and dignity, and you can't "pay your way" to a vaccine, whether through taxes or otherwise. A person's housing, income, or tax status does NOT determine their worth as a human, which is what you are implying when you say that it is "outrageous" that they be vaccinated first. I don't find anything "outrageous" about vaccinating some of our most vulnerable and marginalized populations first.

As for the unhoused, they are people just like you and I. They are not beneath you, and they are not an inconvenience and a "hiccup" to vaccination. They are much more vulnerable than you and I, and it makes perfect sense to vaccinate people who are not able to quarantine, because, need I remind you, they don't have homes.

I guess the pandemic really does bring out the selfishness and greed of some people.


shukaduka
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2021 at 12:09 pm
shukaduka, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 12:09 pm
4 people like this

I try to live honestly but keep an eye open for the threat of those who don't. There are some bad guys out there, and some are very smart. I worry about agitators and fake news (AGITPROP). There is a lot at stake -- health outcomes and money. Diversions of vaccine could line a lot of pockets. The best defense is transparency. The SCC and PAMF and Kaiser etc. should publish their rationale and process, and then publish and maintain the status daily -- how many are in each group (i.e. 1A tier 1, etc.)? how many have been scheduled? vaccinated (shot 1)? This is a fight against a virus, not each other. Some people will die because other people got their shot, no matter how we do this. The best we can do is stop the spread, so maybe grocery workers go before judges. The sloppy messages I find on SCC and PAMF websites scare me -- so much wiggle room for arguments and theft.


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