Santa Clara County’s public health system is on track to vaccinate 30,000 residents a week, officials said Friday.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has established five vaccination sites, including mass vaccination sites at Berger Drive and Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
The Berger location has the capacity to vaccinate 1,300 people and the Fairgrounds can vaccinate 1,800 people in a day.
Next week, another vaccination site will open in Mountain View, and the county plans to open up a third mass vaccination site with more capacity than the fairgrounds, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
“Our system alone vaccinated more than 3,000 individuals this Monday, more than 4,000 this week on Tuesday and Wednesday each, more than 5,000 yesterday, and we have more than 6,000 appointments scheduled today,” Tong said. “So, we are ramping up very quickly.”
The County Health System alone administered 32,352 first doses and 6,594 second doses to eligible healthcare workers and individuals age 75 and older in the county as of Thursday.
But the biggest constraint to vaccinating more people is vaccine supply.
“We really need a stable and predictable supply to be able to predict our capacity and expand our capacity in the future,” Tong said.
County Counsel James Williams said the fault lies on the federal government, daily changing federal and state guidelines and subsequently lots of misinformation.
“We learned a few days ago, for example, that the federal government was going to release stockpiles of vaccine that were being held for a second doses,” Williams said. “We learned this morning no such stockpile exists.”
The other big problem is that vaccine distribution is fragmented, with no real organized plan in the county, Williams said.
Large multi-county health care systems like Kaiser Permanente get their vaccine allotments from the state – which Williams said is the “crux of the challenge” because majority of the population is insured through those large healthcare systems.
Federal agencies also govern themselves in vaccine distribution and a federal program with Walgreens and CVS heads up vaccine distribution for residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
A Jan. 7 public health order seeks to mediate that problem by requiring hospitals, clinics and all vaccine administerers to share information with the county and submit a vaccination plan by Feb. 1.
But the health order can only do so much because federal programs and agencies are not required to share information with the county, Williams said.
However, county officials like Supervisor Otto Lee are hopeful with a new administration, vaccination will be better.
“New president-elect Biden has talked about 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days in office,” Lee said. “And we’ll hold him accountable to make sure that happens.”
In the meantime, as the county faces its largest surge yet, officials are pleading with residents to follow health orders, stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings.
“We are now finally feeling the impact of Thanksgiving, and Christmas get-togethers,” Lee said. “This number is not going to go down unless we all work so hard together to stay socially distanced, wear masks, and unless absolutely necessary, please don’t go out and gather.”
For more vaccination information in Santa Clara County, visit sccfreevax.org.