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March 5, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

As this week marks the one-year anniversary of our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am so glad to be sharing that 164,388 of our residents have received vaccinations and this is 25.6% of our adult population.

The FDA also authorized the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine, which will be distributed in California immediately and promises to become even more widely available as a result of the Janssen and Merck collaboration to scale up production. The road ahead will bring new challenges, but we have come a remarkable distance, and I want to share gratitude for all we have accomplished together as a community to get to this one-year landmark.

With the collective effort of so many, we continue to extend the reach of the COVID-19 vaccine with more success in reaching the older adult population which has been the focus of outreach and vaccination for many weeks. The March 4th reported data show that vaccinating entities have reached 67% of San Mateo County’s residents age 65+. We continue to work to reach older adults who have not yet been vaccinated through trusted partners, for example, partnering with Golden Gate Regional Center and Safeway to reach those 65+ with disabilities and working with AbilityPath to reach their caregivers. During the last several weeks, many partners came together to support local vaccination efforts targeting Half Moon Bay and Daly City, building on the learnings of partners who have supported weekly vaccination efforts in East Palo Alto and Redwood City. We are learning from each of these about the outreach that will be most effective connecting to eligible residents, registration support, walk-up logistics and site considerations that can make the experience safe and efficient. 

As new essential worker groups in education, childcare, food & agriculture and first responders became eligible February 22nd, the County vaccinated 9,792 of these essential workers at the Event Center in five days. Vaccine supply remains constrained, and we appreciate the equity considerations that leaders in the education, child care, law enforcement and food & agriculture sectors have operationalized to reach out to workers who have shouldered the most significant exposure while also preparing all eligible workers to access the vaccination pathways available. Mobile clinic strategies were successful for reaching agriculture workers through on-farm vaccinations and the South Coast. 

You may have heard that the State is directing 40% of the vaccine supply to the California zip codes comprising the lowest Healthy Places Index (a measure of income, education, housing, health care access) census tracts statewide, which are home to 8 million residents with the least socio-economic opportunity. Because none of these zip codes are in San Mateo County, we will not be receiving more supply as a result of this policy change. Although our lowest Healthy Places Index census tracts experience disparities, they are not in the lowest 25% of census tracts on the HPI Index statewide. In fact there are only ten Bay Area zip codes on the list – 4 in Solano, 3 in Alameda, 2 in San Francisco, and 1 in Contra Costa. If vaccine supplies to California do not increase, the result of this change will be a concerning flattening of our supply, which is already insufficient to meet the demand. We know that addressing disparities is an imperative for all of us in the Bay Area, and we fervently hope that increased vaccination supplies to California will keep our vaccine supply growing.

Thank you for all you are doing to support our continued progress.