Santa Clara County Opens Covid Vaccine Eligibility to Age 16-plus

Santa Clara County opened Covid-19 vaccine eligibility Tuesday to all people who live and work in the county who are age 16 or older, joining several other Bay Area counties in fully opening vaccine eligibility.

Local health officials credited a significantly increased allocation of vaccine doses that allowed them to expand eligibility Tuesday.

According to county Supervisor Otto Lee, the county has received between 50,000 and 70,000 vaccine doses per week in recent weeks.

This week, however, the county expects to receive nearly 300,000 doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“For a long time we’ve been talking about our great capacity that we’ve had, we just need the vaccine,” county Covid-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said Tuesday during a briefing to announce the eligibility change. “Well finally, we’re going to see a tremendous increase in the amount of vaccine that we are receiving and an increase in the appointments that we will have available.”

Santa Clara County’s announcement comes two days before the state is expected to open vaccine eligibility statewide to all residents age 16 and up.

Several Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa and Alameda, have also opened vaccine eligibility to all adults that live and work within their borders ahead of the state doing so.

Fenstersheib and Dr. Jennifer Tong, the associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, noted that the county is not expected to be significantly affected by the nationwide pause on the use of the one-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been connected to, but may not be responsible for, six women between ages 18 and 46 developing severe blood clots.

At least six Bay Area counties, including Santa Clara, said Tuesday that they will temporarily pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until state and federal health officials can determine the significance of the clots.

According to Fenstersheib, the J&J vaccine comprises only about 5 percent of the county’s vaccine supply and roughly 60,000 county residents have received the one-dose vaccine.

“These complications that are being reported are extremely, extremely rare,” Fenstersheib said, adding that none of the reported cases of blood clots occurred in California.

The county will not need to cancel vaccination appointments even after pulling the J&J vaccine out of circulation. Residents who were previously due to receive the one-dose vaccine will instead receive one of the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

County officials expect to process a wave of requests this week for vaccination appointments, which they said will be met with increased staffing at vaccination sites to ensure that lines are continuously moving.

According to Tong, the Levi’s Stadium vaccination site alone is administering 10,000 vaccine doses per day with the potential for more in the days and weeks ahead.

“One of the challenges we’ve had over the last almost six weeks now is not having enough vaccine and not wanting to have people just sitting completely idle,” Tong said. “So there’s a bit of a ramp-up phase for us to bring in even more staff to reach our full capacity.”

People who work and live in Santa Clara County can visit the county’s website to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Appointments can also be made through the county by calling 211 or 408.970.2000.

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