County of Santa Clara Vaccine Update: Efforts to Reach Communities Most Harmed by Pandemic Continue Despite Shortage of Vaccine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2021

County Health System Lacks Sufficient Supply to Resume Widespread Scheduling of First Doses

Santa Clara County, CA  While allocations of COVID-19 vaccine provided to the County of Santa Clara continue to be insufficient to resume widespread scheduling of first doses, targeted outreach to the county’s most disproportionately affected communities continues. These efforts include multiple vaccination clinics for workers at agriculture facilities in Gilroy and Morgan Hill this week. Limited first doses have also been offered through the County’s community-based locations in East San José. In addition, the Eastridge Mall vaccination site operated collaboratively by Stanford Health Care and the County continues to offer a limited number of first doses each day.  The County has the capacity to dramatically increase its capacity at each of its vaccination sites with more vaccine supply.

“The lack of sufficient supply from the State has been frustrating for everyone, particularly those who are eligible for the vaccine, and want to be vaccinated, but have been unable to sign up,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Testing and Vaccine Officer for the County of Santa Clara. “We have had to use almost all of the vaccine we receive for second doses, and have continued to provide access for our hardest hit communities to the greatest extent possible given ongoing shortages.”

This week, the County vaccinated food and agricultural workers on-site at Lusamerica Foods and Kawahara Nursery, and will be facilitating a special vaccination clinic in partnership with Olam Spices and the UFW Foundation in Gilroy this Friday that will be open to workers from other farms.

“These vaccination events in South County at food production facilities and farms are critical to reaching our frontline workers most at risk,” said Dr. Rocio Luna, Deputy County Executive for the County of Santa Clara.  “The County will continue to do everything we can to ensure equitable access to vaccination and to prioritize communities at greatest risk.”

Preparations are also under way for the opening of drive-through vaccination capacity at Gilroy High School, in addition to the walk-in clinic currently operating at that site.  This drive-through capacity is expected to begin operations next week.

The County expects vaccine supply may increase significantly statewide in a few weeks, including through additional supplies of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The County of Santa Clara has built a highly effective vaccination distribution system, and we continue to bolster potential capacity,” said County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith. “All we need to dramatically expand access to vaccinations is more vaccine, and we are ready and waiting for it. We want to see the significant capacity we have built in full use, and we look forward to opening up first dose appointment capacity more broadly as soon as vaccine supply allows.”

Given the continuing insufficient vaccine allocation to the County Health System from the State, the County notified several thousand Kaiser patients that their vaccine appointments scheduled between March 22 and March 28 will have to be transferred to Kaiser. The County is transferring Kaiser patients’ appointments to Kaiser because the State has assured Kaiser it will have sufficient vaccine for its members and its vaccine sites.

As with the appointments transferred between March 11 and March 21, the decision to transfer these patients to Kaiser was made after careful consideration of the available options. The County’s priority remains ensuring access to vaccine for communities most impacted by COVID-19, and this transfer of appointments will prevent additional cancellations of vaccination clinics and appointments.

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