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October 26, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

We are hopeful that we will receive news commencing today and continuing through early next week of the federal government’s review through the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control leading to emergency use authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5-11.

We applaud the pediatricians, major healthcare systems and pharmacies across San Mateo County who are getting ready to vaccinate these youngsters as the approval process is completed. Older youth are leading the way, and I loved hearing a youth leader share at the Vaccine Communication Equity Working Group last week a “your health is our health” line that young people are sharing with each other to encourage vaccination. 

Our most recent experience of the virus in San Mateo County

San Mateo County continues to move in a positive direction. Our 7-day lagged average reported yesterday was 4.8 new cases per day per 100K in the population, which is down from the 5 new case figure I shared in my last update. This is an average of 37 new COVID-19 cases per day, compared to 39 per day in my last report.  We continue to monitor test positivity both countywide (.9%) and in the Healthy Places Index lowest quartile census tracts (1.2%). Our testing was reported by the State yesterday at 726 tests per day per 100K population. 

Our case rate and positivity metrics put us in the CDC “moderate” or yellow tier. We are displaying our progress in meeting the three metrics the Bay Area Health Officers established to lift the indoor masking requirement on a new dashboard posted Friday on our website. 

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in San Mateo County have continued to remain relatively low, with a census of between 19 and 21 each of the last seven days. San Mateo Medical Center has been seeing 2 to 3 patients in the hospital with complications of COVID-19 each day.

Vaccination update

Last week federal authorities approved boosters for some who had received the Moderna vaccine 6+ months ago and those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine 2+ months ago and endorsed the “mix and match” strategy, saying people fully immunized with one company’s vaccine should be allowed to receive a different vaccine for their booster shot. There are many pathways for residents who are now eligible through their own health care systems as well as pharmacies. We also incorporated these into County operations at the Event Center this past weekend and will be offering at community-based clinics in the coming days. We are also supporting connections for congregate facilities to offer boosters to their eligible residents, primarily through pharmacy partners that are vaccinating on-site. 

While we continue to support administration of boosters and plan to administer the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine soon, we will remain focused on reaching those residents who have not yet obtained a first dose of the vaccine. Residents seeking can see the dates and times in MyTurn ( or our website: Appointments are recommended for the Event Center site but not required. All clinics will accept participants without appointments.

Overall, the State immunization registry report of October 24th showed that 90.4% (607,622) of our total eligible county population aged 12 and older have received a COVID vaccine. Approximately 65,000 eligible residents remain unvaccinated in our county. We have seen steady progress in our own eligible patient population, with 71% of SMMC patients having received at least one dose (16,093 to go), Aging and Adult Services’ clients 79% (1,512 to go) and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ clients 71% (2,392 to go). Our vaccination rate for youth ages 12-15 countywide receiving at least one dose is now at 78.5% , with 72.1% having completed the series. As we prepare to increase our eligible population to include children ages 5-11 sometime in November, it is important to track the vaccination rate in our overall county population (all ages regardless of current eligibility for vaccine), which is currently at 78.4% for those who have received at least one shot and 72.8% for those who are fully vaccinated. To put our local vaccination reach in perspective, our 72.8% of all residents fully vaccinated in San Mateo County compares to a figure of 60.9% for California and 57.8% for the nation as a whole. 

Within San Mateo County, we see that we have reached 82.0% 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. 

Of the total county residents who have been vaccinated, 59.8% are people of color, 36.6% are white, and 3.6% 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%. However due to data collection and reporting limitations these estimates are still likely under-reporting our true reach in each of the racial/ethnic groups as approximately 71,000 residents are still categorized as “unknown” or “other.” 

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 10/17/21 % age 12+ vax as of 10/24/21 % increase since 10/17/21

Estimate # eligible unvax 

Black / African American 60.6% 60.7% +0.1 percentage points 7,052
Hispanic 62.3% 63.1% +0.8 percentage points 64,047*
Multiracial 61.9% 63.9% +2 percentage points 7,624
Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander 63.4% 63.6% +0.2 percentage points 3,559

*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 appreciate all the work so many are carrying out to close gaps in vaccination reach, especially as the abundant rain the last weekend sparked efforts for critical protection from floods, mud and debris. We have surely tested the breadth of our emergency preparedness and response systems and personnel in the last two years and we are grateful for everyone’s contributions to lifting a piece of the response. 

All Together Better,
Louise F. Rogers