SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) — Health officials in Sonoma and Marin counties on Thursday announced new steps being taken to distribute the COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, despite ongoing issues with the available supply of doses.

A release issued by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors stated that the county’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts were “kicking into high gear” with five vaccination clinics already in operation and two additional sites in the planning stage.

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According to the release, nearly 24,000 vaccinations have been administered in Sonoma County so far. Health officials in the region “will soon have capacity to vaccinate more than 2,000 people a day.” Officials said that number doesn’t include the vaccinations being administered at hospitals and through health care providers.

“Most of all we need a community commitment to being patient as we distribute vaccines in the most equitable way possible, making sure that those most vulnerable and most at risk are vaccinated first,” said Sonoma County
Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins. “We are partnering with our health-care providers to distribute the vaccines as quickly as possible, but we are limited by how many vaccines we receive here in Sonoma County.”

Officials also announced that Sonoma County has completed Phase 1A
Tier 1 of the vaccination distribution process, having successfully vaccinated all frontline health-care workers, paramedics and others eligible to receive their doses in the tier.

Officials said a separate federal program to vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities “is still ongoing, but Sonoma County Department of Health Services have committed to assist that effort to ensure all residents and employees of skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities are vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Officials said vaccinations are underway for those in Phase 1A, Tier 2 and Tier 3, which include specialty clinic staff, laboratory workers and dental clinic staff.

The release also noted that the recent announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom that residents 65 and older are now eligible to receive the vaccine caused some confusion about prioritization. Supervisors offered some clarification Thursday, stating that Sonoma County residents 65 and older would have several options to obtain the vaccine beginning in early February.

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Residents will have the option of receiving their shots from their primary care provider, from a federally qualified health centers, a Safeway store pharmacy or at a county vaccination center. Additional information is available on the Sonoma County vaccine information website.

Meanwhile, health officials in Marin County said they are committed to focusing vaccination efforts across the county for residents age 75 and older.

According to the release issued by Marin County Public Health in partnership with health providers Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, health officials are taking a coordinated step forward in how best to allocate a still-limited supply of the shots to those most vulnerable to hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

Marin County has approximately 25,000 residents aged 75 or over who will be prioritized for available vaccine supplies. In parallel with this effort,
vaccination of any remaining Phase 1A-eligible healthcare workers and
residents of long-term care facilities will continue.

“With limited supply and no sign of any significant increase in the near
future, this prioritization is the right move for Marin,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “Three out of four COVID-19 deaths in Marin are among our residents 75 years or older. A vaccine offered a resident
above age 75 is more than 300 times more likely to save a life than a
vaccine offered to someone under age 50.”

The issued release said to date, approximately 11,145 Marin County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine. Additionally, thousands more healthcare workers who work in Marin County but live elsewhere have received a dose.

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To help Marin residents track when they are eligible to receive a vaccine, the county is launching a new online interest form. Residents can answer a few questions on the form to be subscribed to receive an email or text message notification when they are eligible and how to set up a vaccine appointment. The form is available in English and Spanish on Marin County Public Health’s vaccine webpage.