Santa Clara Co. to soon begin administering 2nd doses of coronavirus vaccine to health care workers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Progress is being made on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution front in Santa Clara County, bringing new hope to a community that saw some of the first confirmed cases in the country last spring. However, officials say hospital ICU capacity has now dropped to just 8% in the county.

"Having some people vaccinated in our community is not a pass to start taking off our masks and acting as though the virus is under control," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer.

As of Thursday, nearly 95,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been delivered to the county. Health officials say the vast majority of acute care hospital staff countywide have already received their first shot, with thousands set to receive their second dose as early as next week. Work also continues on vaccinating healthcare providers in long-term care facilities.

"It is the summation of our individual and collective decisions and actions that decides where this pandemic goes," said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, health care preparedness director for the county. "We have in our power the ability to move this curve."

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Earlier Thursday morning, first responders such as firefighters began receiving the vaccine at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

"The sooner we get all of first responders through, the sooner we can move on to the next tier, (and) the sooner our community members can get vaccinated," said Luisa Rapport with the Santa Clara County Fire Department.

Conversations around distribution have already begun with various provider groups as outlined in lower tiers of phase one of the vaccine distribution plan, such as community clinics and private practices, as well as trade organizations including the Santa Clara County Dental Society. The county says those providers should be able to sign up for the vaccine in the coming weeks.

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While the vaccine roll out is certainly welcomed news, many are keeping an eye on the rising case count throughout the county especially with New Year's Eve upon us. County officials are urging residents not to gather with people outside of their households for the holidays.

"Our resources are stretched thin and healthcare workers are continually being exposed and becoming infected as they care for your loved ones," said Dr. Marco Randazzo, an emergency department physician with the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center system.

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