By Devin Fehely

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County health officials announced late Sunday that the local supply of the COVID vaccine has increased and, as a result, thousands of appointments have been added this week.

“Our staff was frustrated to be sitting and waiting and not having enough of the vaccine to get the job done. Now, I think everyone feels very gratified in the work that they’re doing every day,” said Valley Medical Center Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Jennifer Tong.

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Officials said that as of Sunday, more than 57% of local residents 16 and older have received a first dose and more than 31% have been completely vaccinated.

The increased supply of the vaccine has made it easier to find an appointment, a pleasant surprise for many who’d braced for long wait times.

“We were like, ‘Ugh, we’re not going to be fully vaccinated until September or anything, right?'” said Nicholas Hurley. The 40-year-old worried that by the time he became eligible for the vaccine, it would be impossible to find an appointment.

Now, partially vaccinated he says he looks forward to re-connecting with family after his second shot.

“As soon as we made our appointments, I called my mom; we haven’t seen her in a year. I called her up and was like, ‘Mom, get a plane ticket for June. You’re coming out here. We’re going to be vaccinated,'” Hurley said.

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The numbers have health officials optimistic that the county can move into the least restrictive Yellow Tier by May 4th. As of Sunday, the county was reporting just 118 new cases.

“We encourage everyone who is eligible to sign up for an appointment now,” Tong said in a news release. “This includes our community members who have already had COVID-19 and have recovered.”

The county will also continue its extensive outreach efforts to ensure that communities most impacted by COVID-19 have ready access to vaccine appointments and information.

Those efforts include door-to-door registration of families in hard hit neighborhoods for vaccine appointments, and on-site vaccinations for homeless community members and homebound individuals.

“I don’t think we’re going to beat this thing until we get everyone — or nearly everyone — vaccinated,” said South Bay resident Aaron Burgmeier whose wife helped him book an appointment when she learned of thousands of new openings countywide.

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For the latest information about vaccines and to schedule an appointment, visit the County’s vaccine website at http://www.sccfreevax.org.