1 million South Bay residents received at least one COVID-19 shot
County Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

    Santa Clara County announced Friday that it’s administered one million COVID-19 vaccines.

    “We need to take a moment and take a deep breath and really celebrate,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “This is a really big deal.”

    The milestone comes just over four months after the county vaccinated its first person and one week after all California residents 16 and over became eligible for shots.

    As of today, more than 62% of all county residents 16 and older are inoculated with at least one dose of vaccine. More than half a million people—about a third of the eligible population of 1.6 million—are fully vaccinated. The state’s administered more than 27 million vaccines.

    The announcement follows last week’s federal allocation of tens of thousands of additional vaccine doses, which officials said will allow the county to vaccinate up to its goal of 200,000 residents per week. Santa Clara County lags behind in vaccination rates compared to neighboring counties, a San José Spotlight data analysis shows. The county’s door-to-door mobile vaccine team, which has targeted the county’s most vulnerable populations and low-income communities, has vaccinated more than 16,000 people.

    Though this can be considered a positive marker for Santa Clara County, officials stressed the importance of continuing to wear masks, maintaining social distancing and getting vaccinated.

    “We are far from done,” said Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman, who thanked frontline workers, such as nurses and health care workers, for their efforts in the vaccine rollout. “I appeal to the community members who haven’t already done so already to please schedule your vaccination as soon as possible.”

    The county continues its efforts to close vaccine equity gaps in areas including East San Jose and South County, where residents are most disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Efforts include expanding operating hours in the county health system and other providers, directing mobile teams to affected neighborhoods and working with community leaders to share information in multiple languages. The county also assured it is ramping up efforts to make more vaccine appointments available on the weekend and in the evening to give minority communities better access to vaccines.

    “Our Latinx community is back at work. They never stopped working,” said Dr. Rocio Luna, a deputy county executive. “We’ll be focusing in South County and East San Jose and our fairgrounds site also will be available until 9 o’clock at night.”

    County officials said they have a “plentiful supply” of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine doses. Decisions on when and how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be made available after it was paused earlier this month due to rare cases of blood clotting are coming soon, the county said. The county estimates that everyone who is eligible can get vaccinated by the end of June.

    The last 30-plus percent of people who have not been vaccinated will present a challenge, according to COVID-19 Testing Officer Marty Fenstersheib. The county has an overall high vaccine acceptance rate, with an estimated “hesitancy rate” of less than 10 percent.

    “The closer we get, the safer we are,” Fenstersheib said. “Hopefully we get everyone vaccinated in the next several months.”

    Santa Clara County health officials encourage residents to visit www.sccfreevax.org to make appointments. Due to the county’s “no wrong door” policy, residents can make an appointment anywhere that is most convenient for them.

    Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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