SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The Bay Area’s largest county is pulling out all the stops to reach herd immunity and offering its residents incentives if they get the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Friday, Santa Clara County reported that 79.7 percent of its eligible residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 70.8 percent are fully vaccinated.
“There’s no magic number for herd immunity but, if we get up to 85 percent, we’ll be doing very well, there will be very little transmission of viruses,” said Santa Clara County vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib.
The county has been dealing with a significant slowdown in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine. Major vaccination sites are scheduled to close, including the site at Levi’s Stadium, as county leaders find unvaccinated residents are now more likely to turn to their doctors for final words of advice.
“It is a final push,” Fenstersheib said. “As I always say, the first million were really easy and this last few percent is much harder.”
The county isn’t pulling back on its efforts even if residents are. Residents learned this week they will be entered in a rally to win tickets to concerts and Golden State Warriors games if they get vaccinated at county sites. New winners will be announced each Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the public health department’s Instagram live feed.
It’s not just the county offering incentives to those who get vaccinated. The state is giving away 50,000 free tickets to Six Flags Magic Mountain and just handed out gift cards and millions of dollars in cash prizes.
“Whatever it takes,” said Heather Cardoza who was vaccinated a couple of months ago. “I think we all need to do this and I don’t think it’s going away. I think it’s going to be something we’re going to have to do annually so we better get used to it now.”
Monica Zehner, who also is vaccinated, thinks those who are hesitant about getting the vaccine may not necessarily buy into the county’s dangling carrot.
“I don’t think it’ll change minds of a lot of people, I think people stick with their beliefs,” Zehner said. “With everything that we’ve gone through I think everybody needs to come together and really think about getting it done.”
Zehner said she initially didn’t want to get the vaccine but, because she works in the healthcare industry and takes care of her disabled parents, she said it gave her two important reasons to get immunized.
“I just think it’s really important to think about other people,” Zehner said. “There are people around us who are sick, there are people around us with cancer, there’s elderly people around us so we really have to think about all of them.”