Majority of SF Hospital Workers Vaccinated, Other CA Counties Fall Behind
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday afternoon that Californians 65 and older were being moved up in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine next. This coming on the heels of New York and Florida implementing a similar policy. In a surprising turn, far fewer frontline healthcare workers initially wanted the vaccine than expected, and this led to vaccines being unused, being returned, and even expiring on the shelf across America.
California had received more than 2.4 million vaccine doses as of Monday, but only a third of them have been used. The state aims to administer nearly 1.5 million vaccine doses by Friday — still a small portion of what’s needed for herd immunity in a state with nearly 40 million people.
There is a stark difference between healthcare workers when it comes to trusting or taking the vaccine. At Laguna Honda in San Francisco for example, about 10% of the nursing staff has opted out of the vaccine, said spokeswoman Zoe Harris. SF General reported 90% of its staff being vaccinated, and UCSF reported 80% of its staff being vaccinated.
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But in a much more rural county like St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff CA, 495 doses were first made available to healthcare workers in December, but the hospital “basically returned 200 back to us.” Said Dr. Richard Wickenheiser, the Tehama County health officer. (over 40% of vaccines were returned unused). This is not an isolated case.
In Los Angeles County, only about a quarter of some 800,000 healthcare workers have been inoculated, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the associated press. Due to the lack of progress, LA County cannot open up vaccine distribution to its 65-and up citizens yet. It’s unclear why some counties are falling behind in distribution. It could be logistics (LA county is our largest county), or it could be vaccine refusal, time will tell.
Santa Clara County public health officials say the county of 2 million people only has enough vaccine to dose people age 75 or older. Officials said they asked the state for 100,000 doses but had received 6,000.
The associated press reported last week that vaccine acceptance varies wildly across the country, in some facilities (like in Indiana) up to 90% of staff refused the vaccine. Back in California, state wide data of vaccine acceptance has not been released yet. So it may take time to get a concrete picture of acceptance rates.
A December survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of healthcare workers were “vaccine hesitant,” a figure slightly higher than the percentage of the general population, 27%. That is a stunning, and perhaps devastating reality for our fight against COVID. If hospital workers refuse the vaccine, there is very little hope of eradicating COVID anytime soon, certainly not anytime this year.
According to the Kaiser Foundation survey if you are a Republican or aged 30-49 you are more likely to be ‘vaccine hesitant’, and if you are a Democrat or over the age of 65, you are the least likely to be ‘vaccine hesitant’.
The main reasons for healthcare workers ‘vaccine hesitation’ ranged from not knowing possible unknown side effects (especially in pregnant women), mistrust of government and big pharma’s motivations and ability to store and distribute it properly, a general lack of data on effectiveness as well as the ‘rushed’ nature of the vaccine.
California state has announced that the vaccine is now expected to be available to everyone by the end of 2021. “You will get it at doctor’s and dental offices, clinics, and pharmacies” according to San Francisco County.
Infectious disease experts say that in order for herd immunity to work, 70% of the population must be immune to the disease.
The state is creating a new system that will notify people when they’re eligible to receive a vaccine and let them make appointments for mass vaccination sites. The first phase of that system is set to launch next week, the department said, but didn’t offer a more specific date. For info on vaccine distribution in every bay area county see bellow:
Bay Area COVID Vaccine Registry by County
The fine folks at abc 7 news have put together links for each bay area county, and their information of how to register for a vaccine (when available). Here’s what we know about how to get a vaccine in every Bay Area county:
Alameda County is following the state’s guidance when it comes to which groups are allowed to receive the vaccine first. The county has set up a form you can fill out to be notified when your window opens.
Contra Costa County
Health care workers and those 65 and older can make an appointment request with the county here. Click here to fill out the form and click here for more information from county on its next steps. Health care workers employed by Kaiser Permanente should schedule an appointment with Kaiser directly.
Health care workers in Marin are being vaccinated by their employers and residents at long-term facilities (like skilled nursing homes) are being vaccinated on site, the county says, as part of Phase 1A of distribution. When it comes to members of the general public, the county says they “will have a wider range of vaccine options, such as their medical provider, local health care clinics, commercial pharmacies, additional employer-based vaccine events, and public health mass vaccination events.” The county encourages people to talk to their doctor or employer for more answers on when they can schedule a vaccine. See more info from the county here.
Napa County residents included in phases 1A, 1B and 1C who are interested in getting a vaccine can fill out a “vaccine interest form” on the county’s website. More information from the county can be found here.
San Francisco County
Health care workers and nursing home residents are already getting vaccinated in San Francisco, but the city doesn’t have a form online yet to allow the general public to sign up. “Most people will receive the vaccine from their healthcare provider. You will also be able to get it at doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies,” the city’s website says.
San Mateo County
San Mateo County is still focused on vaccinating people in Phase 1A of distribution, health care workers and nursing home residents. The governor’s decision to open up vaccination to the general public ages 65 and older may soon change that, but the county’s site hasn’t yet been updated. Check here for more info and updates.
Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County announced Wednesday it’s opening up vaccination to residents 75 and older, as well as health care workers and nursing home residents. Interested Santa Clara County residents should talk to their health care providers about getting an appointment for a vaccine, the county said. More information on how to schedule an appointment with your provider can be found here.
Solano County is still working its way through Phase 1A of vaccine distribution (see if that applies to you here) and says that anyone who falls into those categories should coordinated getting vaccinated with their medical provider.
“Individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated should first contact their health-care provider or primary care physician for information on how they can receive a vaccine or to make an appointment,” Sonoma County says on its site. Right now the county is only vaccinating people in Phase 1A, but you can check here to track the county’s progress through the phases here.