Santa Clara County has now expanded vaccine eligibility to residents 75 years old and older.
As of Wednesday, residents aged 75+ can schedule vaccine appointments, in addition to those in Phase 1A comprised of healthcare workers.
“Right now, we are open to those 75 years and older because that is a very high-risk population… that needs to get vaccinated right away,” County Counsel James Williams said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Though individuals 75 years and older are part of Phase 1B, the vaccine is still not available to education, food and agriculture and other frontline workers in the same tier.
“We want to make sure no slot goes unused we want to make sure we get vaccines out the door as quickly as possible, but we have to balance that a little bit to make sure we have vaccines there and available,” Williams said. “As soon as we have the supply here, we will also expand [eligibility].”
The news comes as the state announced vaccine eligibility to those 65 years and older, but Williams said the county would need more vaccines before it would be able to do so.
The population in the county of those 65 years and older is “pretty significant,” Williams said, with more than 300,000 people in that age range.
“We don’t even yet have enough first doses received by the county to cover all healthcare workers in the county,” Williams said.
Currently the county has 110,000 vaccines, only 52,098 of which have been used.
That does not include the number of vaccines allocated to and distributed by multi-county healthcare systems like Kaiser Permanente or Sutter Health, or by federal programs and agencies.
“We are constrained by the vaccine supply we have available here locally,” Williams said. “As we continue to get more vaccines we will continue to move as quickly as we can through eligible tiers.”
County Executive Jeff Smith said health officials requested an additional 100,000 vaccines, but the state only approved 6,000 more.
There is not an anticipated timeline for when vaccination eligibility will expand.
However, with the new presidential administration coming next week, Williams said he anticipates more vaccines may be distributed.
In the meantime, county officials encourage all those who are eligible for vaccination to sign up for appointments as soon as possible.
Those with private health insurance, like Kaiser Permanente or Sutter Health, can make appointments through their own healthcare provider.
Residents who rely on county hospitals can sign up for their vaccine shot at sccfreevax.org.
Williams also warned against using links in unofficial texts that direct people to make appointments through the states vaccination system CalVax.
“When people go ahead and do that, it is taking up slots that would otherwise go to people who are eligible,” Williams said. “And we are checking eligibility.”
Already, 100’s of people used unofficial links and showed up to appointments they were not eligible for, Williams said.
Residents in the county must sign up through the county’s website for vaccination or their healthcare provider.
“Don’t forward links around,” Williams continued. “There is really a very simple source of truth for vaccination here in Santa Clara County, that is sccfreevax.org.”