race for a vaccine

Santa Clara County Makes Progress on Vaccinations as it Eclipses 100K Cases

Santa Clara County has "made substantial progress" in getting the coronavirus vaccine shots to those eligible, health officials said Friday, a day after the county surpassed 100,000 cases.

As of Thursday, the county had administered more than 185,000 doses of the vaccine, including nearly 38,000 second doses, officials said during a news conference. Health care providers in the county have received a total of 281,578 vaccine doses, and there are more than 60,000 vaccination appointments scheduled over the next seven days.

"The county and other vaccine providers have made substantial progress in vaccinating our residents age 75 and older, the group facing the very highest risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer. "As we move forward in the vaccination process, equity continues to be a top priority, and the county is committed to ensuring access to vaccines for our most impacted communities through a number of different strategies."

Part of that effort was highlighted this week with the opening of the first drop-in vaccination site for health care workers and residents 65 and older at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose.

Vaccine supplies remain the top concern, and county health officials said they are awaiting clarity and information from the state on a possible shift in strategy toward a "third-party administrator" for distribution statewide. That strategy also could mean modifying the criteria for who should be vaccinated in what order, officials said.

The County Health System is now operating three mass vaccination sites and multiple clinics, as well as a mobile vaccine clinic to serve long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, health officials said.

Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said the county has the capacity to vaccinate in excess of 6,000 people a day on average.

More mass vaccination sites, community-based clinics and strategies for taking appointments are in the works, officials said.

They also stressed that the vaccine is not a pass to stop using protective protocols. As of Thursday, the county has reported 100,468 coronavirus cases and 1,344 deaths.

"Everybody needs to keep masking, keep distancing, keep testing, and get vaccinated when it is your turn," Fenstersheib said. "Check with your provider, see if you are eligible, and sign up for a shot."

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