The expanded eligibility follows the state's current guidance for vaccine allocation.
"Older residents and those living in skilled nursing facilities continue to be the population at greatest risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19," said Dr. Monika Roy, a county assistant public health officer.
As of Monday, more than 160,300 individuals have been vaccinated in Santa Clara County by the county, private health care providers and other vaccine distributors.
The county's health system is the largest provider of the COVID-19 vaccine, county staff said. So far, it has administered nearly 60,000 first doses and has a weekly capacity to provide 30,000 vaccine appointments per week.
Residents can make appointments for the mass vaccination sites located at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, at Berger Drive in San Jose and at the Mountain View Community Center on Rengstorff Avenue.
The county is also vaccinating eligible individuals at several Valley Health Center locations, including up to 600 people per day in Gilroy, according to the county's Public Health Department.
"As the vaccine becomes available to more of our residents, the county continues its deep commitment to equity and ensuring access for our communities most at risk of contracting COVID-19," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for the Santa Clara County Health System.
The county also is partnering with community clinics and launched a pilot mobile vaccination clinic to ensure vaccine access to residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
"We are coordinating efforts with local fire departments and emergency medical services providers and sending vaccinaters into the field to ensure those at greatest risk can be vaccinated as quickly as possible," Roy said.
County leaders say the ability to expand vaccine eligibility is dependent on vaccine supply.
This week, the county received 20,125 additional first doses of vaccine, which is "far fewer doses than health systems in the county have capacity to provide," according to the county public health department.
Residents can get more information about vaccine allocation and administration by health care providers on the county's COVID-19 vaccine dashboard at sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/dashboard-vaccine.aspx.
State order lifted, outdoor dining resumes
This week, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties returned to the state's most restrictive COVID-19 level, the purple tier, after California health leaders lifted statewide regional stay-at-home orders on Monday.
Under the purple tier, outdoor dining, personal care services and professional, collegiate, adult and youth sports may resume with modifications. Restaurants can once again offer outdoor dining. Personal care services, such as nail and hair salons, can have indoor and outdoor clients. Outdoor family entertainment centers and outdoor card rooms also can reopen, and gatherings of up to three households can resume outdoors only. Places of worship also can resume outdoor services.
Mandatory travel restrictions, which require a 10-day quarantine for most persons who return to Santa Clara County after traveling farther than 150 miles, will stay in effect, Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said during a press conference on Monday afternoon.
The county is keeping the travel restriction order in place due to the high infection rate in other parts of the state, particularly in southern California, where three variants of the coronavirus that are spreading throughout the state have been found. The travel restrictions also appear to have reduced the amount of travel, which is one of the main ways the virus has spread, Williams said.
"We are still nowhere yet out of the woods," he said, noting the county still has high hospital rates.
The county's local directives, which predate the state's regional stay-at-home order, are still in effect. Noncontact youth sports can resume if they are outdoors, but contact sports are still prohibited. The San Jose Sharks can resume play at SAP Center provided they adhere to regulations, Williams said.
Businesses and individuals must follow both the state and county orders, and where there is a conflict between the two, the stricter rules must be followed.
In San Mateo County, outdoor dining and personal services resumed Monday with required modifications. The county is not imposing additional local restrictions and remains in alignment with the state.
"This is a huge sigh of relief for our struggling small businesses, but we've got a ways to go still before life returns to normal," San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President David Canepa stated in a press release Monday.
"Science and data tell us that wearing our masks stops the spread. So I will repeat once again, wear your damn masks," he said.
Sutter/PAMF to open mass vaccination center
Also this week, Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation has signed an agreement to set up a mass vaccination site at the San Mateo County Event Center, the county's health chief, Louise Rogers, said on Tuesday.
The large site will enable Sutter/PAMF to begin vaccinating a greater number of its patients — so long as it has supplies, Rogers said during an update to the county Board of Supervisors.
A Sutter/PAMF spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the medical provider is "actively working to expand capacity throughout Sutter's footprint, and large-scale vaccine clinics are an important part of our strategy to continue to deploy as much vaccine as possible to eligible patients."
The vaccination clinic at the San Mateo Event Center is expected to open to Sutter patients age 75 and older next week. It is a walk-up format, not drive-thru, and will be by appointment only. Sutter patients, including those served by Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who are 75 years or older can make an appointment by calling a dedicated hotline at 844-987-6115 or self-booking through My Health Online, the Sutter Health patient portal.
Sutter has approximately 3 million patients in its system throughout northern California. Like other health care providers, it has been experiencing a surge of patients at its acute facilities and is testing thousands of patients per day for COVID-19, the organization stated.
"At this time, Sutter is prioritizing the state's most vulnerable populations including those who are 75-plus years of age and our community health care workers because they are at greatest risk according to CDC guidance. As vaccine supply and appointment capacity expands, we will broaden eligibility and notify our patients. We share in the excitement and hope that comes with the COVID-19 vaccine and are working extremely hard to meet eligible patients' scheduling requests," a Sutter spokeswoman stated.
Dr. Anand Chabra, San Mateo County's section chief for COVID-19, said the county has vaccinated 48,826 people, a total of 6% of the county's population (a number that includes children, who are not eligible for the vaccines). The county has been allocated 58,750 doses thus far. The number of vaccinations given is likely higher, since the county doesn't have data on all of the vaccinations given at long-term care facilities, where there are an estimated 12,000 residents. Those doses are administered by pharmacy teams from CVS and Walgreens using the federal supply of vaccines.
About 30,000 of the county's 38,000 health care workers have been vaccinated, Chabra said. The county has also vaccinated 16,000 people who are ages 65 and older, which is about 12% of that population, he said.
Rogers acknowledged there are some groups who should be vaccinated that currently fall through the cracks. Some small, informal group care facilities aren't in the county's licensing database and need to have access to the vaccines. The county is also working on a plan to reach homebound seniors, who might need to have public health nurses visit them at home. The county also has transportation for its Health Plan of San Mateo patients to be transported to vaccination centers, she said.
To further address equity issues, the county is looking at working with local pharmacies and to find local partners to administer vaccines at neighborhood sites where it is easy for people to walk to and receive the vaccine. Sub-zero freezers, which are required to store the vaccines, however, pose a challenge to this localized approach, Rogers said.
The main concern is still supply. Counties and medical providers don't know when they will receive vaccines, nor the amount they will receive, in a timely manner, which doesn't allow for planning, Rogers said, but she is hopeful that the logistics and communication will improve under the Biden administration.
Some issues could also arise in terms of supplies beyond the vaccine dose. Kaiser has expressed concern about having enough needles, for example.
"Everyone is constrained except for Sutter/PAMF for supplies," Rogers said.
Some supplies, such as needles, come with the vaccines, but there have been five-dose vials from Pfizer that actually have six doses-worth of vaccine in them, Chabra said.
The county also added a new data dashboard related to the vaccines Tuesday morning on its website, which can be accessed at smchealth.org/data-dashboard/vaccination-demographic-data.
What the purple tier allows in Santa Clara County
All of the following are subject to the county's Mandatory Directives, which describe specific operating regulations.
* Outdoor dining may resume; indoor dining remains prohibited. Bars, breweries, distilleries, and pubs may serve alcohol only outdoors and only in the same transaction as a meal.
* Personal care services may resume indoors and outdoors.
* Professional and collegiate sports may resume.
* Adult recreational sports activities may resume.
* Youth sports may resume subject to the state's and county's guidance.
* Most businesses that are allowed to open indoor operations to the public must limit capacity of their publicly accessible space to 20%.
* Outdoor gatherings with up to three households are now allowed for any purpose.
* Larger outdoor gatherings with up to 200 people are allowed only for political, religious or ceremonial purposes. Indoor gatherings of any kind remain prohibited.
* Most people who travel into the county from more than 150 miles away must quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival.
* Lodging facilities may not provide lodging services for non-essential purposes, such as tourism, recreational or leisure purposes. Non-essential travel should be avoided, especially in light of new variants of COVID-19 that are circulating globally and in the United States.
* All businesses must continue to require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers can go into work only to complete the job duties they can't complete from home.
Source: Santa Clara County Department of Public Health
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