Contra Costa County Starts Vaccinating All Residents 16 and Older
As of Tuesday, all residents and those who work in Contra Costa County age 16 and older can schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The sudden move comes just seven days after the county dropped eligibility age to 50.
The county credits the expansion to a recent influx of vaccine doses received from the federal government and a shipment this week of 84,000 doses, which was 30,000 more than expected, according to a press release issued by Contra Costa Health Services Tuesday.
In the press release, Contra Costa County Health Director Anna Roth said:
“Since we gave the first dose in our county on Dec. 15, getting vaccine to everyone and anyone has been our top priority. Removing barriers of all kinds, including confusing eligibility criteria is an important step in furthering our equity goals. This is an important day.”
The new eligibility guidelines will allow another 375,000 residents to schedule vaccination appointments, which will go a long way toward the county’s goal to administer one million shots by May 31 — they have already administered more than 640,000 doses.
As of Tuesday, nearly 45 percent of county residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose and more than a quarter of that population has been fully vaccinated.
When the press statement was issued at 10:35 a.m., county health officials reported that thousands of appointments were still available this week at various community clinics. However, appointments are expected to fill up quickly with news of the expansion.
The state of California will extend eligibility to those 50 and older as of Thursday, so Contra Costa County residents under between the ages of 16 and 49 will need to book appointments directly through the county’s health department online at cchealth.org/coronavirus or by calling (833) 829-2626. CCHS recommends scheduling the appointment online if possible in order to avoid long hold times with the phone scheduling system.
In addition, the county is eliminating equity barriers by simplifying the appointment registration form, piloting walk-in clinics, prioritizing vulnerable communities according to the California Healthy Places Index and increasing mobile clinic capacity by as much as four-fold in some locations.
Contra Costa remains in the red tier on the state’s blueprint for reopening and will not be eligible for a move to the orange tier for at least another week. Since tracking began in March 2020, the county has confirmed more than 64,000 COVID-19 cases resulting in 754 deaths.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the county dropped the eligibility age to 50 on March 28. This story was updated to reflect the correct date of March 22.