Santa Clara County plans to expand COVID-19 vaccination centers despite uncertainty over supply

Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is far exceeding the amount that's available.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County is moving forward with its plans to expand its COVID-19 vaccination centers despite the uncertainty over supply - a situation they say is primarily the fault of the federal government.

For now, the county can only accommodate health care workers and those 75 and up.

Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is far exceeding the amount that's available.

And in the Bay Area's biggest county, officials say they continue to be hamstrung by the federal government.

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"We learned a few days ago for example that the federal government was going to release stockpiles of vaccines that were being held were for second doses. We learned this (Friday) morning no stockpile exists," said James Williams, Santa Clara County Counsel.

Williams says transparency is essential to building public trust, but the process has been anything but easy.

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For Bay Area seniors, the wait for a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to take months.

"Kaiser and PAMF are responsible for the majority of Santa Clara County residents, the majority of our residents are their patients, but we don't have full visibility into what they're doing," said Williams.

Despite the struggle, county officials are moving forward with the expansion of multiple vaccination sites, building out the infrastructure in hopes that the federal government will get its act together under a new administration.

Most residents will receive the vaccine from their primary care provider, but the county has already ramped up capacity to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day with plans to do more once the vaccine supply becomes more stable.

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"Due to this limited and unpredictable supply, we continue to need to limit eligibility for vaccination," said Jennifer Tong, M.D., SCVMC Associate Chief Medical Officer.

Hospital systems are overloaded as cases and hospitalizations go up.

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But Stanford Health Care has stepped up to help providing mutual aid by accepting more than 500 transfers in the past two months alone.

As people anxiously wait their turn for the vaccine, medical providers are once again reminding the public about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We know how you can protect yourself. We know that if you maintain social distancing and wear a mask, you will be able to protect yourself from this virus," said Prof. Andra Blomkalns, M.D., Stanford School of Medicine.

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