Contra Costa County’s healthcare system is gearing up to provide as many as 7,000 vaccines per day in an effort to vaccinate all eligible residents over the next six months. The county expects to triple the number of vaccines offered this week as capacity grows.
Vaccination efforts in Contra Costa County have been in startup mode over the past month, building scheduling systems and putting the staff in place to meet demand. This is all being done during the biggest surge of the pandemic.
“We are at the beginning of the biggest public health immunization campaign in history and it’s going to take time,” Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) Director Anna Roth said. “At some point, everyone who wants a COVID vaccine will be able to get one. While we aren’t there yet, making vaccine available to everyone is our top priority.”
As of now, all but 1,400 of the 43,675 doses allocated in Contra Costa have been assigned to people in Phases 1A and 1B priority groups. All the doses are expected to be given within the next 14 days, Roth said.
With vaccine in limited supply now, immunizations have only been available to priority groups in high-risk settings, such as frontline healthcare workers and nursing-home residents and staff. As of Jan. 10, 30,245 doses have been administered in the county by various health providers, including Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) and John Muir Health, as well as the federal long-term care partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Safeway and Rite-Aid are completing their registration process with the state. Safeway will begin offering shots at one location this week with additional sites coming on board in the next two weeks.
Contra Costa County Deputy Health Officer and COVID Operations Chief Dr. Ori Tzvieli asked for the public to be patient as health systems build capacity to keep up with the flow of vaccine supply and meet demand.
“We continue to redirect every resource available to getting shots in arms,” Dr. Tzvieli said. “At the same time, we are developing partnerships and networks that will ensure every pharmacy and healthcare provider in the county can provide the vaccine as more and more people are eligible to receive it.”
The County has opened several vaccination sites across Contra Costa at health centers and other large facilities to vaccinate eligible individuals, and we are opening more sites every week. CCHS has also begun shifting staffing from COVID testing sites to vaccination efforts to increase capacity. We also have activated our volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to give vaccine, and the health department is working with fire agencies to use paramedics to administer vaccine.
County health departments aren’t the only ones who are stepping up. Private health systems such as Kaiser, Sutter and John Muir Health — who are the primary healthcare providers for the vast majority of Contra Costa residents – are all scaling up their efforts to vaccinate their own members and let them know when it’s their turn. Pharmacies are also coming online to provide vaccinations as more people become eligible. CVS and Walgreens are already vaccinating those living in long-term care facilities and their staff.
About 900,000 Contra Costa residents will be eligible for vaccine once the County reaches Phase 2 of the distribution plan. To reach community-immunity levels, 75% of those eligible (725,000 people) would need to be vaccinated in the county. In order to immunize 725,000 people over the next six months (104 business days), roughly 7,000 people will need to be vaccinated every business day on average. That will require a significant boost in vaccinations from current levels. During the first few weeks since a vaccine became available in mid-December, 30,245 shots have been given – about 1,200 a day.