March 11, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health
I write with gratitude for the hopefulness that our vaccine rollout is enabling for so many of our older adult and essential worker residents, while also acknowledging the significant work that remains to assure equity in the reach of the vaccine.
The newest dashboard our team has made available distills what we see in the intersection of persistent inequities that preceded this pandemic and the vaccine reach we have achieved so far. We have reached 28.3% of eligible SMC adults ages 16+. This is 181,404 residents. We have reached 21.9% of adults ages 16+ in our lowest HPI census tracts — this is 37,954 residents. We want to eliminate that difference. The range among these census tracts is from 34.8% reach at the high end to 14.1% at the low end. We have more work to do, and this geographical information can help us target our vaccination efforts to lift all of our communities. Our resolve to keep at this challenge is bolstered by the more than 100 community leaders and partners who meet with us every week to inform our approach and build trust with residents whose communities have borne the greatest exposure and risk to COVID-19. As the State has prioritized some of the lowest resource communities in southern/central counties through increased vaccine allocation, we also continue to prioritize the vaccine supply we receive to achieve both speed and equity in reaching eligible residents.
We have reached 69% of older adults 65 and older – 90,150 older adults! We know that the older adults we have not yet reached need more tailored approaches to remove barriers such as transportation access, digital access, linguistic access, and trust in the available pathways. We are hopeful that increased access at local pharmacies, additional neighborhood-based vaccine clinics, and strengthened phone and text-based outreach supported by many community partners can continue to further equitable access. This week we have continued to experiment with mobile clinic approaches, neighborhood outreach combined with walk-up/no registration and door to door. We also will continue to learn from the efforts that target those who are homebound, homeless or facing numerous, simultaneous challenges through care teams trusted by these residents. We are heartened to see progress in reaching the In Home Supportive Services workers who are protecting so many of our most vulnerable disabled residents while shouldering significant risks themselves; we see more IHSS providers reached each week, now passing 50%.
We are continuing to learn how the State and Blue Shield of California’s rollout of a more unified rollout across the State will continue to support San Mateo County residents. We expect residents with certain underlying medical conditions identified by the California Department of Public Health to be identified by their healthcare providers to connect them to available vaccination pathways, beginning March 15th as vaccine supply allows. We also expect the State to announce additional changes to eligibility very soon and we hope those changes will be accompanied by greater supply of the vaccine. President Biden has announced his directive that all eligibility be opened up by May 1, accompanied by increases in vaccine supply. We will learn how California will implement this in the coming weeks.
Having reached the one-year mark of this trying and devastating pandemic experience for our community, I want to acknowledge the role of each of our major healthcare provider partners whose teams have been on the front lines of protecting all of us. There are more than 70 providers enrolled to participate in the vaccination effort, and they are all assuring reach into every corner of the County but the enormous lift by Kaiser, Sutter/PAMF, Stanford, and Dignity in addition to the pharmacy chains has been critical. At this morning’s Recovery Equity Communications Work Group, we heard from Kaiser, Sutter/PAMF, Dignity and San Mateo Medical Center representatives regarding the challenges and opportunities they have faced in reaching our residents with vaccinations countywide and in our most impacted communities and we are so grateful for their partnership.
Thank you for all the ways you are supporting this critical work.