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April 7, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

My update this week comes at a time when we are nearing almost everyone in San Mateo County being eligible to be vaccinated – coming April 15th – as we also reach a milestone of half of our residents age 16+ receiving at least a first dose.  

Based on the California Immunization Registry data as of April 5th, 317,988 individuals have been vaccinated with 502,423 doses, which is 49.5% of our total eligible County population age 16+. Surpassing the half-million dose mark also reminds us of the enormous scale of what we are accomplishing as a community, which is such a critical effort to mitigating the virus’s continued and mutating presence. Unfortunately, we face a challenging week ahead with the disappointing news we have received from the State. Although the State still expects vaccine supply to increase by the end of April, the State has informed all counties that the supply of vaccine from the federal government available for allocation by the State this week has been reduced by 33% compared to last week. The State plans for this week to reduce first dose allocations across all counties proportionately. We expect this to mean that our San Mateo County allocation will be 67+/-% of last week’s, a significant reduction, requiring us to scale back first dose plans for next week. This reduction to the State is caused by near-term supply challenges at the national level, as well as increasing proportions of California vaccine being delivered through the federal direct allocation programs. 

We remain focused on the communities that have had the lowest vaccine reach while also experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates. Locally targeted vaccine clinics in five communities reached 4,946 unvaccinated residents last week. Our San Mateo Medical Center team’s efforts in five of its clinic locations reached 3,000 residents who are our patients. We also continue to make progress in reaching unhoused residents in encampments in several parts of the county and to reach 690 residents (most insured by the Health Plan of San Mateo) through dedicated vaccine appointments at local Safeway stores. Together, these and other efforts are enabling increased vaccine reach in our Health Equity Quartile communities, with 40.5% of residents age 16+ living in these communities reached with at least one vaccine dose. While we are not yet at our goal of zero gap in reach among our communities, this represents a 19-percentage-point increase since March 9th, when we were at 21% of residents age 16+ living in these communities reached. We are hopeful that the federal government’s expansion pharmacies accessible to our residents will contribute to closing this gap. This week, the number of local pharmacies (Cardinal, Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Safeway, Walgreens) offering COVID-19 vaccines is at least 33, with our allocation dashboard displaying the increased roles pharmacies are playing.

We also continue to make progress with residents who are most unlikely to leave their homes. We have continued to collect information about close to 1,000 homebound residents and have vaccinated close to 100, using a home visiting model. If you know residents for whom this will be needed, please help them connect with our on-line form that allows us to learn about them for future outreach efforts. We are also glad to report having reached 49% of 5,986 Medi-Cal beneficiaries who receive in-home support services. Aging and Adult Services reports that 90% of 392 mentally ill conservatees and 96% of 180 dementia conservatees have received their first vaccinations.

The volume of our progress next week will no doubt be impacted by the reduction in vaccine supply, not only to San Mateo County but to the region. But the quality of our efforts will continue to improve despite that challenge. It was wonderful to hear from one of the neighbors who lives near our County Health main campus relay, “Thank you and your fantastic vaccination workers for all they are doing.” 

Thank you for your continued support,