Vaccine Supply Shortages Prompt Public Health Leaders Throughout the Bay Area to Urge Prioritization of Older Adults for Vaccination

Bay Area County Seals


For Immediate Release
February 3, 2021

County of Santa Clara Public Health Department Joins Seven Other Bay Area Jurisdictions in Recommending that all Health Systems Prioritize Patients Aged 65 and Older

Bay Area, CA – For the time being, the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccination doses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area has led health officials in eight jurisdictions to urge all health systems to prioritize shots for patients aged 65 and older because of the virus’ high mortality rate within that group.

County health departments and collaborating health care partners are coordinating efforts to streamline vaccine distribution and administration, moving as quickly as possible to provide shots to the most vulnerable residents. Marin, Napa, Santa Cruz, and Solano counties are prioritizing residents age 75 and older. Similarly, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties are prioritizing people age 65 and older. This is in addition to continuing vaccine Phase 1A-eligible health care workers, many of whom are now expecting their second doses.

Across the region, most COVID-19 deaths have been in the 65-and-up age group.  Thus, focusing vaccination efforts on those at greatest risk of death will have the biggest immediate impact on saving lives. 


Proportion of COVID-19 related deaths of county residents 65+ as of 1/28/2021

Contra Costa






San Francisco


San Mateo


Santa Clara


Santa Cruz




“Three out of four COVID-19 deaths in Marin are among residents age 75 or older,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Public Health Officer for Marin County, which has the highest per capita older adult population of any county in California. “A vaccine offered to a resident above age 75 is 300 times more likely to save a life than a vaccine offered to someone under the age of 50.”

The Bay Area continues to receive only a small fraction of the vaccines needed to vaccinate residents aged 65 and older, much less the broader occupation-based groups the state has included in Phase 1B Tier 1, including educators, food and agricultural workers, and emergency services personnel. Across the Bay Area, weekly dose allocations from the State of California – based on a formula designed to ensure fair distribution statewide – have slowed compared to shipments in December and early January. With the current pace of supply, it will take several weeks to offer a first dose to all older adults who would like to be vaccinated.

“We need to be direct and honest with the public that, although we want to vaccinate everyone, right now we just don’t have enough vaccine to do so,”  said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara. “Given limited supply of vaccine, we must prioritize vaccinating those at greatest risk of death or serious illness.  We are anxious to vaccinate a much broader segment of the population, and are ready to do so as soon as vaccine supplies allow.” 

Limited vaccine supply is resulting in a widespread inability to make new appointments, and in some cases, can lead to cancellations of existing appointments. In addition, administering Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine requires a parallel effort to provide a second dose a few weeks after the first. The need for second doses limits the number of people who can be newly vaccinated each week.

The latest information regarding vaccine eligibility and distribution can be found on the County’s website at


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