Vaccination for law enforcement, educators and farmworkers are underway in San Mateo County and community partners say the process has been going well so far.
The county hosted a vaccination clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center on Monday to vaccinate 800 law enforcement members, including members of the county's sheriff's office.
Detective Rosemerry Blankswade, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, received the vaccine on Monday along with others like detectives, sergeants, administrators and patrol officers. Blankswade said that San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos was scheduled to receive the vaccine Monday afternoon.
Blankswade said she felt no side effects except a sore arm, as if she had been lifting at the gym. Overall, the drive-thru clinic went smoothly and faster than she expected.
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"It's so simple," Blankswade said. "The first couple of weeks when you start anything new there's a learning curve, but County Health has really done a great job of making it a super streamlined process."
Along with educators and farmworkers, law enforcement workers are one of the groups now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in San Mateo County. The county first prioritized health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities and residents 65 years and older per state guidelines.
Previous groups, like residents 65 years and older, will still be eligible for the vaccine even as vaccination efforts continue for others.
In partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, the county's health department will host another vaccine clinic on Wednesday for some 2,300 educators. This will also take place at the county event center.
In a Feb. 19 email newsletter, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee said that the office of education is implementing an equity-focused distribution plan.
"Although we will work to get every school staff member vaccinated, priority will be given to those who serve in the special day classes in special education programs as well as staff who are currently working in-person serving students from communities with the greatest needs," Magee said in the newsletter.
The office of education also plans to prioritize school staff that serve students from households with limited financial resources, students learning English and those in the foster youth program.
This system of prioritization was based on lists created by schools and districts. The Ravenswood City School District, which serves East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, was one of the school districts slotted for the first vaccine clinic on Wednesday as it has a high percentage of students that fall into the prioritized categories.
Ravenswood Superintendent Gina Sudaria said that Magee and the superintendents of the various school districts agreed on an "anti-racist approach" to disseminating the vaccine. She commended her colleagues for working to get marginalized groups back on campus.
Sudaria said the goal is to have all staff vaccinated before the end of March though that might not mean that all their schools can open immediately.
"I hope when staff receive the vaccine they are encouraged and reassured about their safety, so that when we consider how to open up school in the Fall, that is not a barrier," Sudaria said. The county will use its remaining Pfizer vaccine doses to begin vaccinating educators on Wednesday, while it awaits an additional shipment of the Moderna vaccine.
Dr. Anand Chabra, the county's section chief for COVID-19 mass vaccination, said in a statement that the county expected to receive the Moderna shipment on Monday or Tuesday.
These doses will facilitate additional clinics for grocery and agricultural workers, such as a Thursday clinic in partnership with Puente de la Costa Sur, a coastside nonprofit that serves the communities of Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar and San Gregorio.
The Thursday clinic will cater to up to 300 farmworkers and Puente plans to host vaccine clinics on Fridays, too.
Puente's Community Outreach Associate Dalia Huerta said that their contact with farm owners, such as through email, social media and flyers, has been going well. With the high demand for the vaccine, she said they haven't had to convince people to sign up.
"The response has been very positive and we're getting quick feedback from them," Huerta said. "They want it and they're excited."
As of Sunday, 130,205 people have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in San Mateo County, including about 60% of county residents 65 years and older.
For more information on vaccination in San Mateo County, visit https://www.smchealth.org/covidvaccine.