SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Even as Santa Clara County reached a significant vaccination milestone with 75% of the population having received at least one dose, deep disparities remain in areas hardest hit by the virus.
That contrast was no more stark than in two communities — one in East San Jose and the other in the hills of Palo Alto.READ MORE: UPDATE: Fire Destroys 2 Pleasant Hill Homes; Resident Still Missing, Firefighter Suffers Burns
According to state vaccination rate data, the 94304 zip code located in the hills above Palo Alto has achieved an effective 100% vaccination rate. A little under 86% of residents are fully vaccinated and the rest have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“They made it easy in this area to get your vaccination. There were a lot of different places you could go,” explained resident Celeste Birkhofer. She says that ease of access is part of the story.
She also believes that a high level of education, higher average income and a bedrock belief in science has led her community to embrace the vaccine.
“I think a lot of people who live in Palo Alto have the means to take time off from work and go get their vaccination,” Birkhofer said.READ MORE: Drought: Transbay Pipeline, Desalination Plant Could Boost Marin's Dwindling Water Supply
The success of areas like the Palo Alto hills mask the struggles of other neighborhoods within the county. In East San Jose, the 95127 zip code has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest infection rates and lowest vaccination rates countywide.
“Access has been a key issue. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of pop-up sites specifically here in East San Jose. They’ve also adjusted their hours to be open during those off, after-work hours,” said Marketing Director for San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza Omar Rodriguez.
Public health officials have gotten increasingly creative — using small, trusted health clinics for vaccination sites, moving mobile sites into affected areas, even partnering with local professional athletes from the San Jose Earthquakes — to connect with hardest hit communities.
But several months into the vaccine rollout, a simple but undeniable truth remains: even now, some of the hardest hit and most vulnerable communities to this virus have the lease protection against it.MORE NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court Sides With College Athletes In Key Compensation Case
“We’re taking the vaccines to the community. We’re going door to door to sign people up for appointments. We have pop-up sites. We’re meeting people where they are, but we need the help of the community as well,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib with the Santa Clara County Public Department.