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August 10, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

As you have been hearing on the news, we, the Bay Area, and most of the country continue to see substantial COVID-19 transmission. Safe and effective vaccines remain our most powerful tool.

Our team has updated our plan to reach those who remain unvaccinated in San Mateo County (draft attached here: Plan Update - Reaching the Remaining Unvaccinated) and we welcome your feedback about this phase of our work, which prioritizes County efforts to raise every population to at least an 80% vaccination rate between now and the end of December. Your comments can be sent to .

First a snapshot of our most recent experience in San Mateo County: our 7-day lagged average was reported by the State yesterday as 15.2 new cases per 100K in the population, and even higher rates were found throughout the Bay Area and California. This is an average of 119 new COVID-19 cases per day, up from 89 new cases per day last reported week. The increase in new cases per day is slowing while the transmission level remains high. We continue to monitor test positivity both countywide (4.2%) and in the Healthy Places Index lowest quartile census tracts (5.8%). Our testing was reported by the State at 517 tests per 100K/day in our population and we see each day that it has been increasing. 

The number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 has been 40 or higher on most recent days. The vast majority are unvaccinated. The hospital census is up from a few weeks ago and remains a key indicator we are watching closely to understand if there will be further actions needed to assure sufficient hospital capacity for the COVID-19 and other conditions requiring this level of care. We are in regular communication with our local hospitals. The State’s broader view of the risk and safety of vulnerable patients in health care settings informed their action, announced last Thursday, to require employees of most types of health care facilities to be vaccinated, with a timeline of all affected staff completing their vaccination series by September 30th. A second State order requires hospitals, intermediate care facilities and skilled nursing facilities to verify that all visitors are either fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative test result. All local health care systems are reviewing the actions necessary to achieve compliance with these orders. 

We urge all residents who have not been vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones through one of the many pathways available to the COVID vaccine. Each week brings new information to reconfirm the necessity for vaccination. On Friday, the Centers for Disease control published a new study confirming that among those who have been infected with the virus previously, those who remain unvaccinated are more than twice as likely to be reinfected than those who were vaccinated after contracting the virus (New CDC Study: Vaccination Offers Higher Protection than Previous COVID-19 Infection).

Vaccination update

Since our August 3rd update, we’ve hit a significant milestone. We see from the State immunization registry report of August 8th that 90.3% of our total eligible county population aged 12 and older have received a COVID vaccine (601,661 individuals). Of those who have received any COVID vaccine, a large percentage, 89.2% have completed their vaccination series. Our estimate of the number of unvaccinated eligible San Mateo County residents has now decreased from around 70,000 to 65,000. 

We also see that we have reached 77.1% of those ages 10 and over in our lowest quartile Healthy Places Index census tracts overall, and we continue to focus on raising the lowest of these. We are encouraged by the progress of our targeted efforts and those of our community partners, each day, to lift every community and population up to at least 80% vaccination rates. Through our ongoing work with partners in targeted communities, we have received 54 total requests for pop-up clinics so far. These are taking place throughout the county at a regular pace and move us closer to achieving our vaccination goals. Many of our partners are also noticing increased numbers at their events and in the last week our county-run clinics vaccinated 725 individuals with a first dose or single dose vaccine, a change of +28% since the last week!

Of the total county residents who have been vaccinated, 58.1% are people of color, 36.6% are white, and 5.3% are of unknown race/ethnicity. We continue to focus our efforts on increasing vaccination rates among Black, Hispanic and Pacific Islander communities in which rates are still below 80%. 

Race/Ethnicity Groups under our goal of 80% vaccinated

Note: Due to data collection and reporting limitations these estimates are imprecise and likely reflect under-reporting of reach in each racial/ethnic group given the number of residents who self-identify as “other,” “multi-race” or for whom race/ethnicity data was not collected by the vaccinating entity. 

Race / Ethnicity % age 12+ vax as of 8/1/21 % age 12+ vax as of 8/8/21 % increase since 8/1/21

Estimate # eligible unvax 

Black / African American 60.3% 61.2% .9 percentage points 6,606
Hispanic 53.5% 54.5% 1.0 percentage points 79,695*
Multiracial 44.0% 44.6% 0.6 percentage points 13,410
Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander 59.5% 60.3% 0.8 percentage points 3,806

*This is an over-estimate of the number of Hispanic residents to be reached as it exceeds the total number of residents to be reached; however, we see this is as our largest community under-reached by COVID-19 vaccination among the groups that are still below 80% vaccination rates.

We also see from the data dashboard that 123,503 residents 65 and older have been vaccinated so far – this is 79.6% of this age group. Of those 75 and older, 52,502 have been vaccinated or 75.1% of this age group. We have received new Department of Finance population denominators, which are being reviewed by our Epidemiology Unit. The percentage of population vaccinated estimates may change with the new denominators and will be reflected on our website data dashboards.

Finally, we want to appreciate that each week’s progress at this phase of the vaccine roll out in San Mateo County reflects the sustained commitment of dozens of community-based organizations, health care and pharmacy partners, and the trust our residents place in these organizations. The gratitude we feel for each one of these partners reinforces our confidence of the progress we know we will continue to make protecting each one of our residents.

All Together Better,
Louise F. Rogers