Sonoma County on Friday named Dr. Urmila Shende as its COVID-19 vaccine chief, county officials announced.

In that role, Shende will oversee the county’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and will be responsible for implementing a distribution strategy, coordinating vaccine administration and interfacing with health care leaders.

Shende earned her medical degree from Northwestern University after getting her Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University. Shende completed her pediatrics residency in 1997 at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles before starting her private practice in Santa Rosa in 1998. In 2008 she joined Kaiser Permanente, providing general pediatrics and general patient care.

Shende, a pediatrician in the county for more than 20 years, has been working with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services since March 2020 and has played a critical role in developing clinical standards and procedures for the county’s contact tracing strategy.

“We know the vaccine is our most important tool to ending the pandemic, and it is a great honor to be leading Sonoma County’s vaccine strategy,” Shende said. “Distributing this vaccine is a historic effort, which will require incredible coordination among many different stakeholder groups.”

“We are delighted to have Dr. Shende spearheading our vaccination distribution strategy,” said Barbie Robinson, Sonoma County’s Director of Health Services. “It is a massive undertaking with many moving parts, but it is comforting to know that it is in her capable hands. With Dr. Shende’s leadership, we will get the vaccine quickly and safely to as many Sonoma County residents as possible.”