Teachers and other frontline workers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in San Mateo County starting Monday but county officials said it may take some time for health care providers to reach those groups.
Like other Bay Area counties, San Mateo County officials say they are constrained by the limited vaccine supply.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Srija Srinivasan, deputy chief of San Mateo County Health, said the county is working with leaders in the education, restaurant and law enforcement sectors to reach their workforce.
But she said that it will take several weeks for the county’s major health entities to reach those groups due to supply constraints.
Srinivasan said the county will continue to focus on reaching its “safety net” population — people who have no other access to the COVID-19 vaccine or are covered by the Health Plan of San Mateo.
Along with the county’s health department, multi-county entities like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) have been providing the bulk of COVID-19 vaccinations in the county so far.
However, Kaiser and Sutter continue to prioritize groups of older adults and have not yet specified a timeline for vaccinating frontline workers in the next phase.
Kaiser is prioritizing health care workers, long-term care residents and people 75 and older for its vaccine appointments, according to its website. Then they will focus on patients between 65 and 74 years old with the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure or complications.
Sutter is focused on remaining health care workers and adults 65 years and older. Vaccination for the next phase of workers — teachers, childcare workers, food and agriculture workers and first responders — will only proceed as supply allows.
Meanwhile, the county opened a mass vaccination clinic this week for all county residents 65 years and older, regardless of insurance.
A vaccine clinic at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will continue Friday, and county officials estimate that 12,500 people could be vaccinated through the clinic by the end of the week.
Only four floors of the long-term parking garage at SFO are being used for vaccinations so far, according to County Manager Mike Callagy, who spoke to the media from the SFO site on Wednesday. Callagy said they have the capacity to scale up in a “massive way.”
“It all comes down to doses,” Callagy said. “We could add capacity to each floor. We could go use all seven floors of this. We feel that we can certainly reach between 10 and 15 thousand a day if we had the ability to get that many vaccines.”
The SFO clinic, located at the long term parking garage at 806 S. Airport Blvd., continues Friday from 12:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Another vaccination clinic was taking place at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. then 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
People can find out more information and a registration link for the clinics at https://www.smchealth.org/sfo65.
While the state contracted with Kaiser and Blue Shield of California to help administer vaccines, the move might not necessarily speed up vaccinations in the Bay Area, Srinivasan said.
The Blue Shield arrangement will use COVID-19 case rates and vaccine availability to determine where to scale up vaccination efforts.
“The Bay Area has fared a little better than other parts of the state so they are not getting Blue Shield’s first attention,” Srinivasan said. “Most of the Bay Area counties are in the third part of Blue Shield’s rollout.”
As of Wednesday, 116,259 people have been vaccinated in San Mateo County, which represents 18.1 percent of individuals 16 years and older in the county.
For more information on vaccinations in San Mateo County, people can visit https://www.smchealth.org/covid-19-vaccination.