Santa Clara Co. Concerned About Low Vaccine Supply as State Expands Eligibility Standards

Expanding vaccine eligibility is exciting for the head of Santa Clara County’s Covid-19 testing and vaccine office, but he said Thursday that the Bay Area’s most populous county needs more vaccine supply.

The message from county vaccine director Dr. Marty Fenstersheib’s came hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the expansion of vaccine eligibility to Californians 50 years and older by April 1. Newsom added that residents 16 years and older will become eligible to receive the vaccine by April 15.

“We are excited to expand eligibility.” Fenstersheib said. “Currently, our challenge is not one of capacity or eligibility, but supply.”

Santa Clara County has upwards of 400,000 residents between 50 and 60 years of age, but the county will be getting a fraction of that number in vaccine supply, Fenstersheib said. He added that he is concerned about being able to vaccinate everyone 50 years and older during the first week of April.

That week, the county will receive a little more than 58,000 doses, Fenstersheib said.

“However, that 58,000 doses doesn’t go very far,” he added.

It is about 10,000 doses less than the county received this week, according to county data. “We have the capacity to vaccinate over 200,000 people a week in our county,” Fenstersheib said. “And we’re doing probably a third of that.”

Fenstersheib said the state and county are expecting more vaccine doses in April, as promised by the federal government.

So far, 28 percent of county residents 16 years and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. For those 65 years and older, the percentage is 66 percent. The county has made notable progress toward achieving its goal of vaccinating 85 percent of the population by August, but the Latinx population remains disproportionately impacted.

Despite making more than half of Covid-19 cases and a large percentage of essential workers, only 15.9 percent of the Latinx community has received a vaccine dose. In comparison, 30 percent of the white population and 28 percent of the Asian population have received at least one dose, according to county data.

Fenstersheib, however, emphasized that the county’s efforts are focused on vaccinating the hardest hit communities.

He also emphasized that vaccinating residents is the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants. Already, the P.1 variant—first detected in Brazil—made its way to Santa Clara County in mid-March by a person returning from out-of-state travel.

The county also had two confirmed cases of the B.1.351 variant, first detected in South Africa and 19 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, as of March 20. “We will get the vaccine, but while you are waiting, it’s really important that we don’t get that bad virus to enhance, to continue to mutate itself, to continue to multiply itself,” Fenstersheib said.

The best way to limit the spread is to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, limit time outside of the house and avoid traveling, he added.

To get a Covid-19 test in Santa Clara County, visit sccfreetest.org. To book a vaccine appointment, visit sccfreevax.org.

2 Comments

  1. What concerns me the most is that the South African AND the Brazilian variants are now officially detected in Santa Clara County.

    And that the current Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are KNOWN to be significantly less effective on them. Pfizer is so bad on the South African form , only about 1/3rd effective, since it was 90% effective , means it is only 30% effective on this variant. meaning you have better chances to flip a coin to see if you get sick upon exposure. Modernas effective rate if it was 90% effective has been seen to be 6 times LESS effective on the new variant, which means 6 time 10% makes the Moderna vaccine only 40% effective, still not as good as flipping a coin.

    It really looks like the COVID virus mutations are still outperforming the vaccines at this time. Maybe we have hope that the J & J one will work better. But clearly the Vaccines cannot get us out of this mess alone. We are going to have to change the way we live on a permanent way.

    It is really a race to get vaccines out fast enough to prevent mutations, but mutations occur faster when more people are infected and not treated. We still do not have a full on testing plan to find out every person who is infected yet. WE never got enough testing done to get complete situational awareness of the problem.

    So if you look at it as a WAR on a virus, we are not doing the simplest things to quash it once and for all. Which is make it so not one new person gets infected at ALL. It can be done, but it takes some SERIOUS work to do it.

    Otherwise it will persist to continually kill and disable people, More reports are proving that as much as 25% of people “RECOVERING” from it are not returning to normal health.

    And since 30,000,000 people are infected, that means 7,500,000 people are going to not be able to return to normal life ever again.

  2. “Dr.” Goldstein wrote: “So if you look at it as a WAR on a virus, we are not doing the simplest things to quash it once and for all. Which is make it so not one new person gets infected at ALL. It can be done, but it takes some SERIOUS work to do it.”

    Does this sound rational? Does this sound reasonable to anyone? In a bad flu year, almost 70,000 people die from the flu. In a “good year,” over 30,000 die from the flu. And yet, he is proposing a ZERO Covid infection rate — what a ridiculous objective. We need to keep testing, improve the vaccines, follow the CDC guidelines, and add develop additional effective treatments for people who do get infected. Locking down the country will do massive harm in many ways –probably, in the long run, worse than the virus. That is unless you live in a rent controlled apartment on social security and don’t have to work.

    Oh, and one more thing, “Dr.” Goldstein is NOT a doctor — I just call him that as a good natured teasing ;-) And his dire prognostications are simplistic sophomoric nonsense.

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