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Santa Clara County ramps up COVID-19 vaccinations amid chaotic federal allocations

County leaders are expanding immunization programs, but worry about depleted vaccine stockpiles

El Camion Health doctor Daniel Shin receives his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at El Camino Health in Mountain View on Dec. 19. Photo by Federica Armstrong.

Santa Clara County leaders are concerned they won't have enough COVID-19 doses to continue building up their vaccination program after learning that federal officials allegedly lied about having a stockpile of second doses, County Counsel James Williams said on Friday.

The stunning revelation, which he made during a press conference in San Jose, came not from an official announcement by the government, but from news reports in the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Williams said county officials only learned about the depleted stockpile on Friday morning.

Unnamed federal officials told the news organizations that the federal stockpile had been depleted in late December and that the federal government has been removing additional doses for the second round of shots directly off the manufacturers' production lines. A booster vaccine is necessary three or four weeks after the initial dose to confer 95% immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The Santa Clara County Health System has administered 32,352 first doses and 6,594 second doses to eligible health care workers and individuals ages 75 and older as of Thursday. With the significant expansion of its capacity this week, the county is on track to vaccinate more than 30,000 residents per week, officials said.

The county has reserved enough vaccines to administer the second doses to patients who have already been allocated or received the first dose, he said. The county is now permitting facilities to administer the vaccine to all health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities under the state's Phase 1A protocols and to residents who are 75 years old and older under Phase 1B. Kaiser Permanente is now offering limited vaccine appointments to patients age 65 and older.

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Williams placed the blame squarely on President Donald Trump's administration, which he said had been more focused at the height of the pandemic on false election fraud claims instead of managing the vaccine program. He did not know why county and state officials haven't received communications that the vaccine stockpile isn't available or what it will mean for the rollout.

In the meantime, the county continues to increase its vaccinations by more than 1,000 per day. It is now administering about 6,000 vaccines daily, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

The county has set up two mass vaccination sites in San Jose at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and at its medical center on Berger Drive. Next week, it plans to open an additional mass vaccination site.

Santa Clara County leader discuss plans to expand distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at a press conference in San Jose on Jan. 15. Courtesy Santa Clara County Public Health Department YouTube channel.

State officials have said anyone age 65 and older will be eligible for the vaccines, but county leaders are only opening the administration to residents who are 75 years old and up due to the short supply.

"It is extraordinarily frustrating," Williams said, noting the information from the state and federal governments changes daily.

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County leaders are also hampered by a fractured information system that has thus far hobbled efforts to track just how many doses are actually available in the county. The county's public health care system receives its doses from one source while medical providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health receive their allocations from the state. National pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens, which are administering vaccines to residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, receive their doses from the federal government, as do Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

On Jan. 26, the Board of Supervisors will discuss further recommendations to coordinate the plans. County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody has issued an order for all health care providers in the county to deliver a plan by Feb. 4 on how they will administer the vaccines and to report their allotments.

Some health care providers have seen a crush of people who want to obtain the vaccine. On Thursday, Kaiser Permanente's and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation's websites crashed as patients attempted to book vaccine appointments.

In Santa Clara County, the public can track their eligibility for the vaccines, learn how to set up appointments and receive the latest information at sccfreevax.org.

County leaders said they hope President-elect Joe Biden's administration will straighten out the distribution issues, Supervisor Otto Lee said. Biden has said his administration would provide 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office.

"And we will hold him to that," Lee said.

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in Los Angeles that California doesn't anticipate any issues with distributing second doses of the vaccine, but the federal stockpile problem has led state leaders to be increasingly mindful to verify whatever information they are being given.

While many people are concerned that a lack of vaccines might push out the administration of second doses within the three- to four-week time frame, federal guidance has determined that a later administration of a few weeks won't diminish the immunity conferred by Pfizer's vaccine, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said, speaking at Dodger Stadium, where he and Newsom announced the opening of a mass vaccination center. The same is expected with the Moderna vaccine, he added.

Biden on Friday announced a structure to support the vaccine distribution using the National Guard and he has also backed vaccinating people who are 65 years old and above. He said he would use the Defense Production Act to maximize vaccine production and distribution, including prioritizing supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles and the "fill and finish" capacity to package vaccine into vials.

His administration will release the majority of the vaccines when they are available, so more people can get inoculated quickly, but it will still retain a small reserve for any unforeseen shortages or delays.

"To continue ensuring second-dose availability on the timeline recommended by the FDA, the Biden-Harris administration will closely monitor development, production and release of vaccines, and use the Defense Production Act as needed to ensure adequate supply for second doses on the timeline recommended by the FDA," his administration said in a fact sheet.

Biden's administration also vowed to be "a reliable partner" for states by providing data on vaccine allocation timelines and delivery and to effectively plan and scale distribution so states and local governments will be able to plan for the deliveries.

"Under President-elect Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations states and localities will receive. The federal government will build on the operational plans in place to ensure the effective distribution, storage, and transit of vaccines to states. … The federal government will also fully leverage the Defense Production Act to fill any distribution gaps, including with respect to any needed refrigeration, transportation, or storage facilities," the administration said.

Newsom said that the coordination is welcome.

"We are looking forward to more coordination and transparency," he said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Santa Clara County ramps up COVID-19 vaccinations amid chaotic federal allocations

County leaders are expanding immunization programs, but worry about depleted vaccine stockpiles

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 15, 2021, 2:07 pm
Updated: Fri, Jan 15, 2021, 3:34 pm

Santa Clara County leaders are concerned they won't have enough COVID-19 doses to continue building up their vaccination program after learning that federal officials allegedly lied about having a stockpile of second doses, County Counsel James Williams said on Friday.

The stunning revelation, which he made during a press conference in San Jose, came not from an official announcement by the government, but from news reports in the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Williams said county officials only learned about the depleted stockpile on Friday morning.

Unnamed federal officials told the news organizations that the federal stockpile had been depleted in late December and that the federal government has been removing additional doses for the second round of shots directly off the manufacturers' production lines. A booster vaccine is necessary three or four weeks after the initial dose to confer 95% immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The Santa Clara County Health System has administered 32,352 first doses and 6,594 second doses to eligible health care workers and individuals ages 75 and older as of Thursday. With the significant expansion of its capacity this week, the county is on track to vaccinate more than 30,000 residents per week, officials said.

The county has reserved enough vaccines to administer the second doses to patients who have already been allocated or received the first dose, he said. The county is now permitting facilities to administer the vaccine to all health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities under the state's Phase 1A protocols and to residents who are 75 years old and older under Phase 1B. Kaiser Permanente is now offering limited vaccine appointments to patients age 65 and older.

Williams placed the blame squarely on President Donald Trump's administration, which he said had been more focused at the height of the pandemic on false election fraud claims instead of managing the vaccine program. He did not know why county and state officials haven't received communications that the vaccine stockpile isn't available or what it will mean for the rollout.

In the meantime, the county continues to increase its vaccinations by more than 1,000 per day. It is now administering about 6,000 vaccines daily, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

The county has set up two mass vaccination sites in San Jose at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and at its medical center on Berger Drive. Next week, it plans to open an additional mass vaccination site.

State officials have said anyone age 65 and older will be eligible for the vaccines, but county leaders are only opening the administration to residents who are 75 years old and up due to the short supply.

"It is extraordinarily frustrating," Williams said, noting the information from the state and federal governments changes daily.

County leaders are also hampered by a fractured information system that has thus far hobbled efforts to track just how many doses are actually available in the county. The county's public health care system receives its doses from one source while medical providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health receive their allocations from the state. National pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens, which are administering vaccines to residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, receive their doses from the federal government, as do Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

On Jan. 26, the Board of Supervisors will discuss further recommendations to coordinate the plans. County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody has issued an order for all health care providers in the county to deliver a plan by Feb. 4 on how they will administer the vaccines and to report their allotments.

Some health care providers have seen a crush of people who want to obtain the vaccine. On Thursday, Kaiser Permanente's and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation's websites crashed as patients attempted to book vaccine appointments.

In Santa Clara County, the public can track their eligibility for the vaccines, learn how to set up appointments and receive the latest information at sccfreevax.org.

County leaders said they hope President-elect Joe Biden's administration will straighten out the distribution issues, Supervisor Otto Lee said. Biden has said his administration would provide 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office.

"And we will hold him to that," Lee said.

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in Los Angeles that California doesn't anticipate any issues with distributing second doses of the vaccine, but the federal stockpile problem has led state leaders to be increasingly mindful to verify whatever information they are being given.

While many people are concerned that a lack of vaccines might push out the administration of second doses within the three- to four-week time frame, federal guidance has determined that a later administration of a few weeks won't diminish the immunity conferred by Pfizer's vaccine, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said, speaking at Dodger Stadium, where he and Newsom announced the opening of a mass vaccination center. The same is expected with the Moderna vaccine, he added.

Biden on Friday announced a structure to support the vaccine distribution using the National Guard and he has also backed vaccinating people who are 65 years old and above. He said he would use the Defense Production Act to maximize vaccine production and distribution, including prioritizing supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles and the "fill and finish" capacity to package vaccine into vials.

His administration will release the majority of the vaccines when they are available, so more people can get inoculated quickly, but it will still retain a small reserve for any unforeseen shortages or delays.

"To continue ensuring second-dose availability on the timeline recommended by the FDA, the Biden-Harris administration will closely monitor development, production and release of vaccines, and use the Defense Production Act as needed to ensure adequate supply for second doses on the timeline recommended by the FDA," his administration said in a fact sheet.

Biden's administration also vowed to be "a reliable partner" for states by providing data on vaccine allocation timelines and delivery and to effectively plan and scale distribution so states and local governments will be able to plan for the deliveries.

"Under President-elect Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations states and localities will receive. The federal government will build on the operational plans in place to ensure the effective distribution, storage, and transit of vaccines to states. … The federal government will also fully leverage the Defense Production Act to fill any distribution gaps, including with respect to any needed refrigeration, transportation, or storage facilities," the administration said.

Newsom said that the coordination is welcome.

"We are looking forward to more coordination and transparency," he said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Local
Registered user
Stanford
on Jan 16, 2021 at 8:43 am
Local, Stanford
Registered user
on Jan 16, 2021 at 8:43 am

Every day I am happy the Trump era is coming to end - my prayers have been answered. With Biden we have a competent Christian government.


James
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 17, 2021 at 2:03 pm
James, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2021 at 2:03 pm

California is next to last (above Alabama) among all states in percentage of doses administered out of received doses. Blaming Trump is just a tactic to deflect attention to the utter incompetence of our state and local government.


James
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 17, 2021 at 2:06 pm
James, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2021 at 2:06 pm

Only one state is doing worse than California in administering COVID-19 vaccines

Web Link


Bill Stewart
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:08 am
Bill Stewart, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:08 am

Yes, California's COVID vaccine adminisration system is a mess, in ways our flu vaccine administration system isn't. We're starting to catch up.
But one thing the Trump Administration did wrong that unfortunately Gavin Newsom jumped on board with is announcing immediate vaccine eligibility for later tiers when we not only don't have the supply but did not expect to have it for two more months.

Back in the optimistic days of November, the Feds were telling us that they'd get shots for 65-year-olds in March or April, after doing medical people and nursing home residents in December and January and grocery workers and 75-and-up in February and March. Supplies haven't shown up that fast, so eligibility even for 75-year-olds in January is a bad idea except for states that got their Tier 1 people done already.

When you take a badly run set of web servers, and four times as many people are pounding on them trying to get appointments as you have appointments, you not only have everybody continually retrying on their own provider's site, they pound on everybody else's website, and the whole thing collapses into busy signals like the phone network did after 9/11 or the 1989 quake.


carlt
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:12 pm
carlt, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:12 pm

Over 80,000 shots have been administered in the County as of Jan 17. Amazing!! And the ramp-up just started a couple weeks ago.


Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm

@carlt "Over 80,000 shots have been administered in the County as of Jan 17. "

No. Less than 40,000, according to the article.

That's less than 2% of the 2,000,000 residents of Santa Clara County, in 5 weeks since the vaccines were approved.


Dave
Registered user
Southgate
on Jan 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm
Dave, Southgate
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm

NBC news article 1/15/21 reviewed a very high number of wasted vaccines due to mis-scheduling shots after thawing. “The massive coronavirus vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been hobbled by poor planning, a distribution system that relies largely on state and local governments to make those calls, and by well-meaning attempts at limiting the distribution of the first doses to the most vulnerable populations that have backfired.“


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm

Disaster for those of us locals 55-64 who are listed LAST to be vaccinated in CA, (though risk most definitely RISES greatly with each decade of age) - and in Santa Clara County, in particular.
We are even listed after prisoners (any age, apparently) and thousands of low risk twenty-somethings, radio announcers proclaimed as “essential workers” - I heard this myself from a talk radio person on SF radio station...plus there are Santa Clara County statements on their focus on reaching “the underserved “ and homeless (regardless of AGE?), regardless of how long such efforts would take....students may even go ahead of us....it’s appalling.
Colleges and huge CA universities like UCLA are determined to open up next fall, no doubt taking many tens of thousands of vaccine doses and frequent testing. While the elite football and basketball team athletes have tested positive, certainly, very few have appeared to have fallen ill with covid, much less required treatment or hospitalization.
But ages 55-64....it’s a scary threat if we get Covid!
But those of us just under 65 appear to be forgotten.
Almost anyone has some health issue, but smokers and obese are considered underlying health issues and others disregarded.
I certainly do sympathize with any diabetics and believe they should be promptly vaccinated.
But...Uber pushes to have “their” (gig) drivers vaccinated ahead of us. They have lobbyists.
There is nobody advocating for 55-64YOs.
It will be truly educational to see what happens.
I wish I lived in certain other states.
Politicians in this age group and/or their sposes are meanwhile vaccinated - like Kamala Harris’ husband.
No, he is not an essential worker.
- Not to mention there aren’t enough vaccine doses - how this will be resolved is worrying:
a worse vaccine, like Russian or the Astra Zeneca/Oxford will be offered to us, take it or leave it - months out....or no vaccination until ONE MORE YEAR?!
Any insights, readers? I admit I do not work in medical field nor government bureaucracy.
I advocated to my elected officials for the “one dose” method, whereby in this emergency, with high deaths in CA, poor rate of vaccine rollout by government bureaucrats, the privileged only receive one dose of the high quality Pfizer, and many more therefore also get first vaccination and we catch up with the second dose later. Numerous authorities say this is the best approach along with vaccinating by age oldest to youngest (after true medical, frontline, true essential workers are vaccinated, of course).
But we find many privileged have received the desired Pfizer vaccine and they want their second dose NOW.
Now that politicians and their spouses have been vaccinated, what do they care?
Newsom disregards taxpayers age 55-64.
In D.C., I read one entire building of federal employees (forgot the department) had been vaccinated (talk about privileged ) while another department, which is USAID, had no employees vaccinated. Age was not a consideration, nor “medical or frontline risk/contact” which it was clear none of these white collar employees in the privileged department had. We are not talking about the U.S, Army, for example....


EmmaP
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:19 pm
EmmaP, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:19 pm

According to the vaccine dashboard, 18 January, over 70,000 have received their first jab and about 23,000 their second jab. This is not including those receiving via the VA or PAMF or through CVS/Walgreens (the last handles the assisted care places and nursing homes).
I also note that the 50-64 are in Phase 1C. People younger than 50 fall in Phase 2 unless they are in an earlier phase for some other reason. The breakdown within Phase 2 doesn't seem to be published yet.
Prisoners and homeless fall in Phase 1B Tier 2 because they are in congregate living (think homeless shelters) and so vulnerable for a major outbreak (which in turn puts major stress on the medical system). People who have to interact with a lot of people (e.g., people working in a supermarket) are a danger to many others if they are ill with Covid-19 as well as vulnerable to catching it (hence why they are relatively high on the list).


m h park
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 20, 2021 at 5:21 pm
m h park, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 20, 2021 at 5:21 pm

What about elder people who live at home and not at expensive senior residences who are in their 90's? 75 and older takes in a lot of people before you get
to 90 and over and there are no vaccine sites available to them. Who will answer a phone or a website to give them an appointment where they don't have to travel all over the bay area to look for a shot? PAMF has been shut down for a week already.


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