Front-line health care workers will be the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine across the state. (Photo via Vladimir Fedotov/Unsplash)

The pandemic is worse than ever in Alameda County and California, but a vaccine is on the way and front line personnel will be at the head of the line, county health officials said Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors at a regular meeting Tuesday heard from health officials that the county expects to get some of the vaccine Friday.

Distribution of the vaccine will go to health workers, paramedics/emergency medical technicians and firefighters, partly to the dismay of one supervisor who would like to see law enforcement be in the first group.

“I think it’s sad that we don’t have them in the first group,” Supervisor Scott Haggerty said.
Haggerty, who is retiring from the board at the end of this term after serving six 4-year terms, will be replaced by David Haubert, who won the District 1 seat last month.

But Dr. Kathleen Clanon, medical director for Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and deputy health officer said that if a person gets sick, they need to know that there is someone to treat them.

She said that the most important thing is to protect the community. After that, it’s a tough decision about who gets the vaccine she said.

Alameda County, including the city of Berkeley, is expecting 13,650 doses Friday and by the end of the month, after the county receives more doses, it expects to have all health care workers and 911 first-responders, excluding law enforcement, vaccinated.

Law enforcement and workers such as teachers and grocery store employees may be in the second group vaccinated in the county.

Three shipments are coming in the next two weeks, Clanon said.

The vaccine protects people from getting severely ill, but Clanon said doctors don’t know how long the vaccine will protect a person.

More than one dose will be required for people who gets the vaccine. Vaccination is not mandatory, according to health officials, but getting 70 percent of people vaccinated would be a success.

Clanon said that when herd immunity exists through the vaccine, the community will be healthy.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.