Small Batch of Covid Vaccines Coming Soon to Santa Clara Co.

The first allocation of Covid vaccines will likely be coming to Santa Clara County next week, but there won’t be enough to vaccinate even half of the county’s front-line health workers, county coronavirus testing officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said Monday.

“This is a very small amount and we expected this,” Fenstersheib said. “There will be subsequent allocations that come.”

With the Pfizer vaccine poised for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval on Thursday and the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17, the county is expecting to get multiple vaccine allotments over the next weeks and months.

But it will “probably be well into the next spring and summer to complete” vaccinating all those who want one, Fenstersheib said.

In the first allotment of the Pfizer vaccine, California will be getting 327,000 doses—of which 17,500 will be sent to Santa Clara County.

In line with rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state, acute-care health workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities as well as residents of long term care facilities are first in line for the vaccine.

Hospitals will roll out the vaccines for their respective priority staff and the county will administer distribution for those who work in long-term care facilities with an emphasis on those who work in skilled nursing.

“These are very high-risk facilities,” Fenstersheib said. “They have 5 percent of all of our Covid cases but represent over 45 percent of deaths from Covid.”

There is an array of federal and state guidelines that outline how vaccines will be prioritized, even among the first priority group, and the county will strictly adhere to them, Fenstersheib said.

Most of the directives, however, will be coming after the vaccines are approved.

“We know the vaccine is not going to be coming in the large numbers that we need it so we are expecting the state to give us additional tools to do some of the sub prioritization that we will need,” Fenstersheib said. “Including that we make sure we meet all the equity requirements so that the people who are most impacted by this disease will have an opportunity to receive vaccine.”

And while hospitals are ready and gearing up for the incoming vaccines, they may not be ready to handle the exponentially growing number of Covid cases and hospitalizations the county is experiencing.

On Monday, the county set a new record with 1,450 new patients.

“That is double the record we set just last week,” Covid-19 Director of Health Care Preparedness Dr. Ahmad Kamal said.

Typically, 10 percent of cases require hospitalization, Kamal said.

In the last week there were 72 new hospitalizations and by the next week, Kamal expects the number to rise to more than 100.

This is especially worrisome because there are only 50 ICU beds available in the county, as of Monday. Some hospitals have fewer than five ICU beds available and most hospitals are at 83 percent capacity.

Hospitals in the eastern and southern swaths of the county—which have the highest rates of Covid-19—are 94 percent full.

Kamal said the hospitals and county are partnering with other healthcare partners trying to find ways to increase capacity but cautioned that their efforts are not enough without the community doing its part.

“We need to all double our efforts right now,” Kamal said. “This is the only way we can do this. Last spring our community showed that we are able to flatten the curve. Now is the time where we all must come together and remember that spirit we had and get it again.”

For the community, doubling efforts means strictly adhering to the county’s health order: sheltering in place, limiting interactions with those outside of the household, wearing masks and other safety precautions.

“A vaccine is coming, and it does provide hope,” Kamal said, “but it will not be immediate and we need to get through this together.”

4 Comments

  1. > Small Batch of Covid Vaccines Coming Soon to Santa Clara Co.

    Just sayin’ , , ,

    People on Twitter are starting to say that it’s racist to give the COVID-19 vaccine to “oppressed minorities” first.

    So, if you’re at the front of the line to get the vaccine, are you asserting your white privilege, or are you being used as a white laboratory rat?

    The Queen of England recently stated that she was NOT going to “jump the line” to get her vaccine shot.

    Hmmmmm.

  2. “This is especially worrisome because there are only 50 ICU beds available in the county, as of Monday. Some hospitals have fewer than five ICU beds available and most hospitals are at 83 percent capacity.”

    Here’s something else to worry about: ICU beds seem to be disappearing. Using the county’s most current data I accounted for 339 ICU beds (50 empty, 193 non-COVID, 86 COVID), however using its data from April 24 I accounted for 423 ICU beds (at that time 190 empty, 158 non-COVID, 60 COVID, and 15 undetermined).

    As alarming as the thought of the public being manipulated may be, we can be thankful the statistics suggest the missing beds were empty.

  3. I really think our esteemed leaders should proffer up their arms to get their shots first. You know, to lead by example and dispel any fears that may linger.

  4. @ William Ashbless

    Agreed, plus who is in more need of protection from the virus than those unrestrained by social distancing and quarantine dictates?

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