News

Santa Clara County works to clear hurdles to vaccinations

Bumpy rollout has seen lack of information sharing, not enough vaccine doses

CVS pharmacists give the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to Channing House residents at the Palo Alto retirement community on Dec. 28. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

One month after the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Santa Clara County, county leaders are hurrying to fix shortcomings in the rollout system, plan for thousands more vaccinations per day and get as many doses as they can from the state to meet the demand.

Administering the vaccines has been a patchwork effort, with the state sending doses directly to some large health care systems — such as Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Kaiser — separately from the doses it's sending to the county. Meanwhile, federal vaccine supplies are being delivered to agencies such as the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System as well as to CVS and Walgreens, which are handling vaccinations in senior care facilities.

Unfortunately, the federal government is not disclosing the numbers of doses it's delivered to agencies within Santa Clara County, nor is the state sharing its numbers, county leaders told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. So no one really knows the collective number of doses that has arrived in the county or has been administered at this point.

Given this, Santa Clara County Supervisors on Tuesday passed 5-0 a proposal from Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez to require large health care systems to produce written plans and timelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

"I know it's a big lift to collect and coordinate these plans, but the public shouldn't be sitting around wondering when and where they can be vaccinated as they were with testing," Simitian said. "And time is of the essence. We can't afford to lose a month; we can't afford to lose a week; we can't afford to lose a single day."

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In tandem with the two supervisors' proposal, the county's Public Health Department issued a public health order on Jan. 7 that requires Kaiser, Sutter Health/PAMF, Stanford and the county itself to provide information on an ongoing basis with the public and to submit vaccination plans by Feb. 1.

Kaiser and Sutter Health/PAMF alone serve about half of the county's 2 million residents.

The comprehensive plans must include: how the health care provider intends to provide vaccines to all of its primary care patients as they become eligible; how it will create vaccine-administration sites; communication plans to inform its patients when and where they can receive vaccines; the anticipated number of vaccine appointments; and a timeline for achieving the full vaccination of its patients and how it will avoid "wasting" vaccine doses when there are not enough patients receiving them within a designated tier on any particular day.

Board members Tuesday agreed with Simitian and Chavez that detailed and publicly disclosed plans and timelines can reduce confusion, instill confidence, and, most importantly, get the job done in a timely, fair, efficient, and life-saving fashion.

"Ensuring we have a coordinated, comprehensive and transparent set of plans reduces the chance for anyone to get left behind," Simitian said. "Our only chance of success is a set of clearly defined plans designed to complement one another, and to cover the entire county."

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As of Jan. 12, the county Department of Public Health and other health care providers had vaccinated 52,316 people with a first dose, using 47% of the 110,000 first doses of vaccines received, according to the county's presentation to the board. That figure includes Kaiser, Stanford Health Care and El Camino Hospital among others, but not Sutter Health/PAMF or the federally supported vaccination programs. An additional 56,620 doses have been received in the county for the second shots.

This week, County Executive Jeff Smith also unveiled plans to launch a vaccination dashboard, similar to the county's COVID-19 dashboard, that will summarize the information provided by all of the vaccine providers.

Smith also detailed county plans for ramping up to provide mass vaccinations on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 shots a day. That's a huge expansion from the county's current rate, which was 800 a day on Jan. 1 and 3,600 a day as of Jan. 12, with plans to increase to 6,975 a day by Jan. 18 — provided the county receives more vaccine doses from the state.

'Ensuring we have a coordinated, comprehensive and transparent set of plans reduces the chance for anyone to get left behind.'

-Joe Simitian, supervisor, Santa Clara County

One of those vaccination sites will be Mountain View Community Center, which will offer 1,000 inoculations a day and come online by the end of next week, Smith said. The county also expects to launch a mobile vaccination clinic to serve hard-hit areas.

But the rubber will meet the road when the county identifies a site that can handle more than 10,000 shots a day — an indoor space with sufficient parking, he told the supervisors on Tuesday. San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido sent a letter to the board offering Levi's Stadium as a "facility with the requisite technology to store vaccines, world class security, and the capability to partner with public health professionals to administer vaccines."

Despite the planning, Smith expressed significant concern that the county will be ready to give out shots but will not have the doses on hand.

County officials submitted a request to the state on Sunday asking for 100,000 more doses.

"We were told today we'd get 6,000 doses. That's not enough," he told the supervisors.

"As I pointed out, we have lots of physical capacity and not as much vaccine as we need," he said. "We do feel we made a valiant effort to do all of the vaccinations for the phase 1A class, and so at this point, if we get adequate vaccine, which is a big if, we're considering moving along the tier system, pursuant to new direction from the state, as rapidly as we can. We are planning for ... expanded access if — big, huge if — we get enough vaccine."

"We'll be pushing the state to give us more," he added.

Vaccines will be distributed in phases (1A, then 1B, then 1C, then 2). Within those phases are tiers, which describe the order in which groups of people will get vaccinated (tier 1, then tier 2, then tier 3).

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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Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Santa Clara County works to clear hurdles to vaccinations

Bumpy rollout has seen lack of information sharing, not enough vaccine doses

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 15, 2021, 7:01 am

One month after the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Santa Clara County, county leaders are hurrying to fix shortcomings in the rollout system, plan for thousands more vaccinations per day and get as many doses as they can from the state to meet the demand.

Administering the vaccines has been a patchwork effort, with the state sending doses directly to some large health care systems — such as Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Kaiser — separately from the doses it's sending to the county. Meanwhile, federal vaccine supplies are being delivered to agencies such as the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System as well as to CVS and Walgreens, which are handling vaccinations in senior care facilities.

Unfortunately, the federal government is not disclosing the numbers of doses it's delivered to agencies within Santa Clara County, nor is the state sharing its numbers, county leaders told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. So no one really knows the collective number of doses that has arrived in the county or has been administered at this point.

Given this, Santa Clara County Supervisors on Tuesday passed 5-0 a proposal from Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez to require large health care systems to produce written plans and timelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

"I know it's a big lift to collect and coordinate these plans, but the public shouldn't be sitting around wondering when and where they can be vaccinated as they were with testing," Simitian said. "And time is of the essence. We can't afford to lose a month; we can't afford to lose a week; we can't afford to lose a single day."

In tandem with the two supervisors' proposal, the county's Public Health Department issued a public health order on Jan. 7 that requires Kaiser, Sutter Health/PAMF, Stanford and the county itself to provide information on an ongoing basis with the public and to submit vaccination plans by Feb. 1.

Kaiser and Sutter Health/PAMF alone serve about half of the county's 2 million residents.

The comprehensive plans must include: how the health care provider intends to provide vaccines to all of its primary care patients as they become eligible; how it will create vaccine-administration sites; communication plans to inform its patients when and where they can receive vaccines; the anticipated number of vaccine appointments; and a timeline for achieving the full vaccination of its patients and how it will avoid "wasting" vaccine doses when there are not enough patients receiving them within a designated tier on any particular day.

Board members Tuesday agreed with Simitian and Chavez that detailed and publicly disclosed plans and timelines can reduce confusion, instill confidence, and, most importantly, get the job done in a timely, fair, efficient, and life-saving fashion.

"Ensuring we have a coordinated, comprehensive and transparent set of plans reduces the chance for anyone to get left behind," Simitian said. "Our only chance of success is a set of clearly defined plans designed to complement one another, and to cover the entire county."

As of Jan. 12, the county Department of Public Health and other health care providers had vaccinated 52,316 people with a first dose, using 47% of the 110,000 first doses of vaccines received, according to the county's presentation to the board. That figure includes Kaiser, Stanford Health Care and El Camino Hospital among others, but not Sutter Health/PAMF or the federally supported vaccination programs. An additional 56,620 doses have been received in the county for the second shots.

This week, County Executive Jeff Smith also unveiled plans to launch a vaccination dashboard, similar to the county's COVID-19 dashboard, that will summarize the information provided by all of the vaccine providers.

Smith also detailed county plans for ramping up to provide mass vaccinations on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 shots a day. That's a huge expansion from the county's current rate, which was 800 a day on Jan. 1 and 3,600 a day as of Jan. 12, with plans to increase to 6,975 a day by Jan. 18 — provided the county receives more vaccine doses from the state.

One of those vaccination sites will be Mountain View Community Center, which will offer 1,000 inoculations a day and come online by the end of next week, Smith said. The county also expects to launch a mobile vaccination clinic to serve hard-hit areas.

But the rubber will meet the road when the county identifies a site that can handle more than 10,000 shots a day — an indoor space with sufficient parking, he told the supervisors on Tuesday. San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido sent a letter to the board offering Levi's Stadium as a "facility with the requisite technology to store vaccines, world class security, and the capability to partner with public health professionals to administer vaccines."

Despite the planning, Smith expressed significant concern that the county will be ready to give out shots but will not have the doses on hand.

County officials submitted a request to the state on Sunday asking for 100,000 more doses.

"We were told today we'd get 6,000 doses. That's not enough," he told the supervisors.

"As I pointed out, we have lots of physical capacity and not as much vaccine as we need," he said. "We do feel we made a valiant effort to do all of the vaccinations for the phase 1A class, and so at this point, if we get adequate vaccine, which is a big if, we're considering moving along the tier system, pursuant to new direction from the state, as rapidly as we can. We are planning for ... expanded access if — big, huge if — we get enough vaccine."

"We'll be pushing the state to give us more," he added.

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

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Comments

BobH
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jan 15, 2021 at 10:38 am
BobH, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jan 15, 2021 at 10:38 am

The State of California changed Phase 1B Tier One from 75 and older, to 65 and older. Why hasn't Santa Clara County changed their guidelines too?

See: Web Link


@BobH
Registered user
another community
on Jan 15, 2021 at 11:11 am
@BobH, another community
Registered user
on Jan 15, 2021 at 11:11 am

The expanding of phases to include 65 and over did not mean there was extra vaccines to match that promise. Web Link

By expanding the Phase 1B group, when they couldn't yet cover the food workers, farmers, and providers for children, the state and county essentially worsened inequity in making access for those essential workers more difficult as they don't have the luxury to sit on a phone waiting, and now have to wait further behind those who were just added as eligible.


Kathryn Mouton
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jan 15, 2021 at 11:35 am
Kathryn Mouton, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jan 15, 2021 at 11:35 am

It would help if you showed a table with explanations. What do the colors mean? What's the difference between a tier and a phase, and how do they coordinate.


Carol Kenyon
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2021 at 12:15 pm
Carol Kenyon, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 15, 2021 at 12:15 pm

When will Stanford/ Menlo Clinic have appointments available??


Person from Palo Alto
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 16, 2021 at 11:03 am
Person from Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 16, 2021 at 11:03 am

I don't understand how the county can be complaining about not having enough doses when they've only used 47% of theirs. There's 58k doses just sitting around at a time when cases are higher than ever before. The most 'effective' (in preventing deaths) thing to do would be to vaccinate as many people as you can with the doses you have, stop if you don't have enough and then start up again once you do.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2021 at 4:48 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 16, 2021 at 4:48 pm

I just tried to sign in at PAMC and was unable to get a reservation for a shot. And that is at two locations - Palo Alto and Mountain View . They would not schedule any for February. This is not good.


m h park
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:39 am
m h park, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:39 am

I am 91 years old and live at home with a mentally ill daughter also high risk (diabetes 2 and obese) who cares for me. I am lost in the cracks: not in a nursing home yet at very high risk. The category 75 plus includes everyone in Santa Clara county but no consideration for OLD people like me who don't want to die either! People 80 and older have been forgotten!!


Mike-Crescent Park
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2021 at 6:34 pm
Mike-Crescent Park, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Mar 8, 2021 at 6:34 pm

It’s shocking, simply shocking that government both state and local can’t help make this work.

No doubt though this will all finally be fixed with government access to more data, reports and ensuing endless discussions.

Vaccinations are working in other states. How about looking at how they are doing it successfully instead of trying to invent a California solution just because we believe we are the smartest place on the planet.


Elie Weisman
Registered user
Professorville
on Mar 9, 2021 at 8:15 am
Elie Weisman, Professorville
Registered user
on Mar 9, 2021 at 8:15 am

I had my first Covid-19 innoculation but am still undecided as to its overall safety or efficiency.

Being 82, it was recommended by my primary care physician but I still see various business closures and people wearing face masks.

And as to herd immunity, if everyone gets vaccinated how will scientists actually establish whether it worked or if the coronavirus subsided on its own?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2021 at 10:13 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 9, 2021 at 10:13 am

My shots at Sutter Health got cancelled - I ended up getting a Moderna shot through another agency. Now I am concerned that my second shot may get cancelled. Sorry - Sant Clara County has something wrong with how they are approaching this. They started out with guidelines then did not follow through. What they say in the papers as to how many they have and how many shots provided does not jive.


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