Amid decreasing vaccine supply, San Mateo County officials said they are shifting away from mass vaccination sites in order to boost efforts at community clinics.
The county went from receiving about 22,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses several weeks ago to receiving 18,700 doses — mostly second doses — this week, County Manager Mike Callagy said during a media briefing Wednesday.
After distributing doses to its partners, such as the Ravenswood Family Health Network and Gellert Health Services, Callagy said the county only had about 2,200 doses left to distribute at its mass vaccination sites.
“So we’re going to change the strategy. We’re not going to do first-dose mass vaccinations in a drive-thru manner for the foreseeable future until those doses increase,” Callagy said.
Instead, the county will focus on efforts in vulnerable communities and those with high infection rates, by continuing past vaccine events that have taken place in East Palo Alto, South San Francisco, Belle Haven and for farmworkers in Half Moon Bay. Additional sites will be added and the goal is to have six to seven regular community vaccine clinics per week, Callagy said.
When the vaccine supply increases, Callagy said the county will continue the smaller clinics while resuming mass vaccination sites at the San Mateo County Event Center, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and possibly another site in the South County region.
In San Mateo County, Phase 1A and Phase 1B individuals are eligible for the vaccine. This includes health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, those 65 years and older and people in the education, child care, food and agriculture and emergency services sectors.
As of Tuesday, 214,838 people in the county have received at least the first dose of the vaccine so far, representing one-third of the county’s eligible population. In the county’s most disadvantaged communities — those in the lowest quartile of the state’s Healthy Places Index (HPI) — 27 percent of the population has been vaccinated.
Though the state has promised to deliver 40 percent of its doses to its most disadvantaged communities, no San Mateo County ZIP codes were included in this count.
Prioritizing equity for vulnerable communities is part of the reason the county is shifting its strategy to focus on community clinics.
Deputy Chief of San Mateo County Health Srija Srinivasan said the county is working to build trust and remove barriers to vaccination in vulnerable communities.
“Each week we’re trying different ways to build that confidence in the safe and effective vaccines we have,” Srinivasan said, adding that the addition of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine also removes some barriers to vaccination.
Vaccinations in the county continue via health care providers, pharmacy partnerships and through the county’s health department, which targets uninsured residents, those on the Health Plan of San Mateo and other residents with limited access to the vaccine.
Soon, the county will also start vaccinating people experiencing homelessness and jail inmates.
While officials in neighboring Santa Clara County have said they will not sign onto the Blue Shield of California’s vaccine rollout plan, Callagy said that San Mateo County will continue to work with Blue Shield. The county will also sign an agreement with the state to ensure that it continues to have a direct role in vaccine distribution.
Wednesday marked one year after the initial shelter-in-place order began in San Mateo County. Since then, the County has seen 39,502 total cases and 536 deaths. While the county’s COVID-19 numbers are improving and allowed advancement to a less restrictive tier of the state’s reopening framework this week, Callagy said that people should continue to take precautions and get tested if they have symptoms.
“We have a long way to go. This is not a time to say that we’ve hit a home run, but rather a time to say this is just another base along the path to getting to a home run. We’re taking it a base at a time.”
People should continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing, wash hands and avoid gatherings.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccination in San Mateo County, visit https://www.smchealth.org/covidvaccine. A scroll-through website on the County’s COVID-19 journey is available at https://arcg.is/10vfqz.
Vaccine clinics are taking place this week through the Ravenswood Family Health Network and the Chinese Hospital. Visit https://ravenswoodfhc.org/covid-information/covid-19-vaccination and https://www.chinesehospital-sf.org/covid-19-vaccine to learn more.
Eligible residents will be contacted by the County or its partners. To receive updates on vaccination opportunities, people should sign up for the state’s MyTurn.ca.gov notification tool and the County’s notification tool at https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Nfb6DU2gzEin422hrwiD-S6Nu8Fm05tAlD6PWRPnVIxUOUo0N0NUM1VDRUtVMDlBMlZBNFFBOFVNVyQlQCN0PWcu&wdLOR=c539C3515-F3DE-944B-88F3-A8F48EC76AB3.