SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Health officials in San Francisco and Santa Clara County on Tuesday announced they were expanding COVID vaccine eligibility to all people age 16 and up effective immediately.
Both are joining several other Bay Area counties in fully opening vaccine eligibility.READ MORE: Apple Holds Edge In App Store Trial Despite Nagging Issues
Santa Clara County 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.
San Francisco’s announcement issued Tuesday afternoon by Mayor London Breed, Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax and Director of the Department of Emergency Management Mary Ellen Carroll confirmed that the city would be opening up vaccine eligibility to the lower age group “in accordance with state and federal guidance.”
Those newly eligible residents can visit SF.gov/getvaccinated to learn about options for receiving the vaccine and to find links where they can schedule appointments at different vaccination sites in the city.
Last week, San Francisco expanded eligibility to the lower age groups specifically in priority zip codes 94124, 94134, 94112, 94110, 94107, 94102, 94103 and 94130, which are all located in communities impacted more significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. and the City will continue its efforts to ensure vaccines are administered equitably.
Officials noted that the expansion to all people 16 and over had originally been scheduled for April 15 in California, but the early moves by other Bay Area counties to begin vaccinating people 16 and older — including in Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties — have led city officials to open up eligibility sooner in order to ensure access for San Francisco residents.READ MORE: Pac-12 Picks MGM Executive George Kilavkoff As Next Commissioner
According to health officials, nearly 60% of people 16 and older in San Francisco have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The city is currently vaccinating roughly 12,000 residents per day.
More than 30% percent of San Franciscans have been fully vaccinated, while 84% of San Franciscans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 68% percent have been fully vaccinated.
“As we work to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible, this expanded eligibility is important progress in our fight against COVID-19. We’ve created a network of vaccination sites in our city, and San Franciscans are stepping up and getting vaccinated because we know that it’s our best shot to end this pandemic once and for all,” said Mayor Breed. “Even with limited supply, San Francisco continues to be well ahead of the national average for how many of our residents have been vaccinated.”
The release stated that the goal of San Francisco’s vaccination strategy is to make receiving the vaccine as convenient, comfortable and low-barrier for as many people as possible, particularly in those neighborhoods disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As eligibility expands citywide, we remain focused on ensuring equitable access to vaccine for those neighborhoods that have been most impacted by this pandemic,” said Dr. Colfax. “We will continue to work with our community partners to ensure that vulnerable communities have ready access to the vaccine. With limited supply, we know that booking an appointment right away might be challenging, but we are expecting more vaccine towards the end of the month.”
Because supply remains limited while eligibility is expanding, officials remind residents it may take a number of weeks to find an available appointment. Eligible individuals should continue to be patient, should keep checking the website, and should accept the first vaccine that is offered, with the exception of people 16 and 17 years old, for whom Pfizer is currently the only approved vaccine.
The announcement said that if San Francisco receives sufficient supply to meet the city’s distribution capacity, over 80% of adults could be vaccinated with first doses by mid-May.
Santa Clara County officials said they 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 Dr. Jennifer Tong, the associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, 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 COVID vaccine website to schedule a vaccination appointment.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Corruption Scandal: City Reaches $1.7M Settlement With Permit Expediter Walter Wong
Appointments can also be made through the county by calling 211 or (408) 970-2000.