Santa Clara County officials are urging all health care workers in the county to get vaccinated for COVID-19 now that they are eligible.
The news comes after the state's public health department expanded eligibility on Thursday to include all health care workers under any tier in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution.
This means those who are in the second and third tiers of Phase 1A, including those in intermediate care facilities, community health workers (including promotoras), public health field staff, primary care clinic workers, workers at specialty clinics, labs, dental clinics, and pharmacy staff, can get vaccinated.
Initially, only staff at acute care hospitals and dialysis centers, medical first responders, and staff and residents at long term care facilities were eligible for the vaccine.
"We're very pleased to see that the early rollout of the vaccine has offered protection to so many of our most essential and most at-risk workers," said county Supervisor Otto Lee. "Now the pool just got larger, and the County and other health care system partners are ramping up to meet this increased demand."
There are about 140,000 health care workers in Santa Clara County, and already 47,000 of them have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine - a figure Dr. Sara Cody, the county's health officer and public health director said represents "great progress."
"Despite the fact that we are in the midst of an extremely difficult surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and the first vaccine shipments arrived over the holidays," Cody said. "Health care systems throughout the county have made great progress in vaccinating staff in the first tiers of Phase 1A."
To date, health care systems throughout the county have received 110,280 first doses and 17,320 of the second doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health have also received additional vaccine directly delivered to them.
Most health care workers are eligible to receive the vaccine through their employer, but those who are not can get vaccinated through the county.
Residents of long-term care facilities are receiving vaccines through the federal government's Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program.
As more vaccines come to the county, more appointments will be made available, and shipments are coming every week.
The county's health care system alone is expected to reach 4,000 vaccinations per day by the end of next week, and in the coming weeks capacity will increase.
"We are opening various clinic-based sites around the county and anticipate opening additional mass-vaccination facilities in the near future," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals and Clinics.
As soon as people in Phase 1A have been offered the vaccine, the state will allow vaccination to begin in Phase 1B which includes people over 75 years old and other "frontline essential workers" who work in education, child care, emergency services, and food and agriculture.
The second tier of Phase 1B will include adults 65 to 74 years old, incarcerated and unhoused people, and those who work in transportation, critical manufacturing and other sectors who are at risk of exposure through their work.
Still, health care officials are pleading with the public to continue following health orders and safety protocols for COVID-19.
"Our progress thus far in vaccinating our health care workforce brings us great hope, but we must remain vigilant until most of our community has been vaccinated. We all need to work together to get through this, but we will get there," Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer for the County of Santa Clara, said.
To learn more about vaccines or book an appointment through the county click here.