SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Individuals 75 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Clara County, officials announced on Wednesday.
Eligible South Bay residents, in addition to health care workers in Phase 1A of the county's rollout plan, can go to sccfreevax.org to schedule a vaccination. Other systems, including Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford, and Kaiser are expected to expand access to vaccine appointments to their older patients soon.
The new update comes after health officials proposed a lofty goal to get 85% of the county's eligible population (1.5 million people) vaccinated by Aug. 1. Eligible individuals are those over the age of 16 -- the cutoff for the Pfizer vaccine. That means the county needs to administer 13,000 every single day until the beginning of August.
Already, the county is far below the goal, with only 52,216 people receiving vaccine shots as of Tuesday. That is less than half of the county's total available vaccines of 110,000 doses.
The county's testing officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib told county supervisors on Tuesday that the Aug. 1 goal will be difficult but not impossible.
"It is dependent on vaccine availability and that nothing else goes wrong," Fenstersheib said.
He said changing guidelines at state and federal levels could be a potential barrier, as well as incomplete vaccination data from local entities in the county and future vaccine availability.
County supervisors unanimously voted to send a letter to the state asking for more vaccines and County Executive Jeff Smith said health officials put in a request in the last week for 100,000 more doses. The county has since received an additional 6,000, Smith said.
"We're the sixth-biggest county (in the state), we should be getting the sixth-most vaccines," new board president Supervisor Mike Wasserman said. "Give doses to Santa Clara County because we know what we're doing. We've proven that and we're ready to go."
Health officials on Tuesday said hospitals are almost at full capacity and local morgues can no longer store bodies.
To address the shortage of space, the county has brought in three refrigerated trailers that can hold up to 60 bodies. Two trailers are located at the county medical examiner's office and the other is at Bay Area Mortuary Services in San Jose.
The sobering news comes as the county faces increased COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Of the county's total 85,929 cases, 1,269 were from the last several days as of Wednesday. There were also 43 new deaths, bringing the county's death tally up to 986, according to the county's COVID-19 data dashboard.
The death count may also be undercounted, the dashboard notes, because the high number of deaths under investigation can lead to delays in reporting.
And more cases means more hospitalizations, and subsequently less capacity at local hospitals. Currently, there are 695 residents hospitalized because of COVID-19, 77 of which are from the last few days.
More vaccine information is available at sccfreevax.org.
Bay City News contributed to this report.
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