Contra Costa County health officials plan to vaccinate upwards of 7,000 residents per day against COVID-19 in the coming months. (Photo via Steven Cornfield/Unsplash)

Contra Costa County health officials said they will accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations to as many as 7,000 vaccines a day in what they said is an effort to have as many of the 900,000 eligible county residents as possible vaccinated over the next six months.

That compares to the approximately 1,200 Contra Costa residents who have been vaccinated each day since the vaccines were first available in mid-December.

“We are at the beginning of the biggest public health immunization campaign in history, and it’s going to take time,” Contra Costa Health Services director Anna Roth said in a statement. “At some point, everyone who wants a COVID vaccine will be able to get one. While we aren’t there yet, making vaccines available to everyone is our top priority.”

Vaccination efforts in Contra Costa County have been in startup mode over the past month, building scheduling systems and putting the staff in place to meet demand during the biggest surge of the pandemic, health officials said.

As of Sunday, 30,245 vaccine doses have been administered in Contra Costa, Roth said, to health care workers, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, frontline essential workers and others ages 65 and older.

The vaccines have been administered by various health providers, including Contra Costa Health Services, John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health as well as via the federal long-term care partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Safeway and Rite-Aid are completing their registration process with the state; Safeway will begin offering shots at one location this week with additional sites coming on board in the next two weeks, county health officials said.

The ramp-up, they also said, to reach community-immunity levels will require 75 percent of eligible county residents — about 725,000 people — to be vaccinated. To reach that total over the next six months, an average of about 7,000 people will need to be vaccinated every business day.

Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County’s deputy health officer and COVID operations chief, on Monday asked for the public to be patient as health systems build capacity to keep up with the flow of vaccine supply and meet demand.

“We continue to redirect every resource available to getting shots in arms,” Tzvieli said in a statement. “At the same time, we are developing partnerships and networks that will ensure every pharmacy and health care provider in the county can provide the vaccine as more and more people are eligible to receive it.”

In addition to more vaccination sites opening around the county, Contra Costa Health Services has been shifting staff who have been doing COVID-19 testing to now administer vaccinations. Tzvieli also said that Health Services is working with fire agencies to have paramedics administer the vaccines, and has activated its volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to administer them as well.