Santa Clara Co. says it will have enough vaccine to 'protect entire community' as eligibility expands

"We now have enough vaccine, really, to quickly reach our goal of protecting our entire community against COVID-19," Santa Clara County's testing and vaccine officer said.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In less than two days, all Californians 16 and older will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, in the Bay Area, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties joined Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano in expanding vaccine eligibility early.

"We now have enough vaccine, really, to quickly reach our goal of protecting our entire community against COVID-19," Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County's Testing and Vaccine Officer said.

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Dr. Fenstersheib explained the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has long outweighed capacity, but after receiving an influx of doses, the county is able to handle the task.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the county announced it is set to receive 300,000 doses, which is expected to open tens-of-thousands of additional vaccine appointments in the weeks ahead.

The increased supply is coming directly to the County of Santa Clara Health System from the federal government, under a program operated by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

On the ground, the effort to reach people in hardest hit communities continues.

"We have well over 100 community health workers going door-to-door in our most hardest hit communities," Betty Young with the County explained. "iPad in hand, to schedule folks for their vaccination appointments."

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With limited vaccine supply on top of a huge influx of eligibility, there is concern about increased waits and frustration when it comes to getting vaccinated, a process that has already proved very challenging.



Using this strategy, she said the county has been able to schedule appointments for 1,000 residents per week.

According to a release, published by the county on Tuesday, "The County received the first shipments of additional vaccine supply from the U.S. government this morning, and additional supplies are expected to arrive next week."

"This significant increase in vaccine supply will allow the County Health System to fully utilize administration capacity at each of its vaccine clinics," the release continued. "The County is also working with other vaccine providers to ensure that they have adequate supplies to meet community needs and is expanding its outreach efforts to reduce barriers to vaccination."

"Our objective is to get as many people in our community across the finish line as possible," Supervisor Cindy Chavez told reporters. "And we have to do with recognizing that we need everybody to get vaccinated."

RELATED: Thousands get vaccinated as Alameda County expands eligibility to everyone 16+

This was welcome news for 19-year-old San Jose resident Thaddeus Lundberg. He said the pandemic hit during his freshman year of college.

However, even with expanded eligibility, his wait could be just a bit longer. The county warned residents to expect heavy traffic on the sign-up website.

"I'm pretty prepared for that long wait, because I know everyone's constantly trying to get it," Lundberg told ABC7 News. "It's the first thing that everyone wants, so they can go back to some sort of so-called 'normal.'"

Lundberg and others are being encouraged to return to the site to book an appointment as more open up.

"I think we're getting closer to the end," he shared. "I think we're getting closer. So we can finally go back to a so-called 'normal' once everybody gets vaccinated."

He continued, "I'm seeing some light at the end of the tunnel."


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