Contra Costa County ramps up COVID-19 vaccine distribution; aims for 7,000 vaccinations a day

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- Contra Costa County is quickly becoming among the most aggressive in the Bay Area when it comes to ramping up COVID19 vaccine distribution, with a goal of vaccinating 7,000 people per day.

"Our goal is to not have vaccine sitting around in our freezer. Our goal is to have it all in arms as soon as it comes in," said Contra Costa Co. Deputy Health Director Dr. Ori Tzvieli.

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The county now has two clinics to complete vaccinations in Phase 1A, which includes those working in a variety of health care settings from dental offices to home caregivers.

"You're saving a life, if not others too, by not being sick. So it's a good thing to do," said Donna Ruelos, a caregiver for an elderly man moments after she received the first dose of the Moderna COVID19 vaccine.

Through it's online registration system, county health officials are beginning to assign vaccines to Phase 1B, tier 1, which will include educators, childcare workers and everyone over the age of 75.

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"I'm just happy to be getting it," said Guy Haralson of Pittsburg. "Millions of people aren't right now and they really need to."

"It's not about just making the vaccines available and having that network which is critical, but it's also about making sure that we really do this in an equitable way," explained Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth R.N..

Roth said the country is actively looking at how to reach disenfranchised and under-served populations when it's their turn to get the vaccine, an effort that includes forming partnerships with community groups to help enhance communication.

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Contra Costa County is also dramatically expanding its vaccine reach to eligible residents through enhanced partnerships with retail pharmacies, like Rite-Aid and Safeway, among others.

According to Dr. Tzvieli said most people in Contra Costa County will learn they're eligible through their own healthcare provider and at that point, they should be able to get the vaccine, through a local retail pharmacy, much like the flu shot.

Contra Costa officials estimate they'll need to vaccinate 725,000 people, about 80% of its eligible residents to achieve herd immunity, hopefully in the next six months.

For more information on the county's vaccine program, go to www.coronavirus.cchealth.org

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