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March 19, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

This week we continue to see progress in the San Mateo County COVID-19 vaccine rollout, while also acknowledging that the large group of approximately 200,000 residents who became eligible on March 15 occurred at a time in which the vaccine supply in San Mateo County has actually decreased. 

This is resulting in fewer first-dose vaccine opportunities at the same time that thousands of residents, including adults with certain underlying medical conditions that put them at-risk, are ready and eager to find a pathway. We so appreciate their patience and their concerns. This is a larger phenomenon impacting our neighboring counties as well, as a result of the State’s directing 40% of the vaccine supply to the central and southern parts of California. We expect to see an increase in our supply in several weeks when there is much more vaccine supply flowing into California.

We continue to learn and increase the reach of the vaccine, especially into our most vulnerable communities. As of March 17, a total of 221,228 San Mateo County residents have been vaccinated, representing more than 34.4% of residents age 16+. The reach among older adults, age 65+ is now at 75.8%. As we strive to engage the remaining 65+ who have not yet been vaccinated, we are using all our means to target the most vulnerable, including this week focusing on a home-visit model for the homebound. With the help of the Emergency Operations Center’s CGI call center we are also reaching out to 1,500 recipients of the Great Plates meal delivery program (56% of the 3,470 have already been vaccinated!) to learn if they need assistance to become vaccinated. Remember to share this link with anyone you think may need to let us know about being homebound or facing other challenges to access: so they can register to be notified. At this time, about 55% of our 8,000 Aging and Adult Services clients have been vaccinated and we have also reached more than 52% of the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers who support some of our most vulnerable residents.

Given our reduced supply of the vaccine we are shifting our focus away from mass vaccination sites for several weeks (heart-breaking because we were really on a roll with a successful model, see letter below) until supply grows. We are prioritizing local strategies to close gaps in vaccination rates in our lowest quartile Healthy Places Index (HPI) communities. Our dashboard that enables us to see our reach shows the varied picture and gaps to be overcome in the communities that have shouldered significant exposure and disproportionate COVID-19 impacts. Overall, we have reached 27.5% of residents age 16+ in our lowest quartile Healthy Places Index census tracts, compared to 34.4% of residents age 16+ countywide. At the high end, in one area within Daly City, more than 42.9% of residents age 16+ have been reached, exceeding our countywide average, while at the other end, one area in East Palo Alto has only 15.8% of residents age 16+ vaccinated. We continue to mobilize tailored approaches to reach every eligible resident through trustful outreach and actions to remove barriers in accessibility.

You may have seen the joint statement of the Bay Area Health Officers reinforcing the safety and efficacy of all of the approved vaccines. As we eagerly await a greater supply, it is exciting to be able to overcome some operational challenges in vaccinating residents such as homeless residents living in shelters and homebound seniors for whom arranging a second dose poses some particular challenges and the 1-dose Janssen vaccine enables reach of a group prioritized for protection.

While we continue to work on a fast and equitable reach within San Mateo County, we appreciate the increased supply of vaccine the federal government is directing to pharmacies and federally qualified health centers. We love hearing from residents who have found it convenient to be vaccinated at a nearby pharmacy.

Thank you for all of your support.

All Together Better,



Letter from a San Mateo County Resident

Just wanted to tell you, & Carbon Health, & all at SFO parking garage (the people directing traffic, checking drivers lic, Fire Dept Emt’s giving shots, everybody) all you guys are the best. Me & the boss, my dear wife, just got 2nd Moderna shot today, & whole process, including 1st shot, was extremely well run, efficient, quick, never had to get out of car. Month or so ago, P___, my wife, got call from her HMB doctor, offered appointment for 1st shot. Sounded good. Day of appointment got call from Belmont clinic of the health care provider, (hospital/ins group) associated with her DR’s office, stating since she just signed up for Medicare ins provider in Dec 2020 (she just turned 65 then), was “out of network”, & if she wanted covid shot, would have to pay $90 bucks for 1st, who knows what for 2nd. She cancelled appointment, as all public, gov, media info said shots are free, (or paid for by taxpayers to hospitals, ins cos, Dr.’s etc) Freaking out. By pure chance, saw in HMB Review newspaper, SMC Health & Carbon Health offering shots at SFO. Jumped on it, got appointment at SFO like next day. Have seen on news people waiting in line, on foot, outside, or Moscone Center, SF, where your car will be broken into, or you get mugged, injured, or shot, or 12 hour waits like at Los Angeles coliseum. Seen (& tried) getting appointment (like Sutter, or CVS etc) impossible, or ran out of vaccine, booked up, etc. But SMC Health & Carbon, & all involved, somehow, miracle, (pure chance for us, seeing HMB Review article) came up with fantastic, well run plan at SFO parking garage. We are extremely grateful for your expertise (being 65 plus, well aware of limited time, grateful to get few more years without ending up dying alone in ICU on ventilator), & in these crazy times, terrible news, it is amazing to have found such a well run system to give covid shots. Please tell everybody involved thank you.