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September 7, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

The Labor Day holiday reminds us each year of the essential contributions of all workers, and this year our gratitude is especially for the perseverance of the many workers who are the backbone of our eighteen-month response to the pandemic in San Mateo County. 

The Latest

Kudos to all of you: healthcare, first responders, and public health workers who have been on the front lines through each phase of the battle against the virus, continuing to inspire us to keep maximizing the reach of the vaccine, which now approaches 92.2%. The persistent and creative efforts of many partners to support our progress using “radical convenience” reinforce our confidence that in San Mateo County each challenge will be met anew.

Our most recent experience of the virus in San Mateo County

Our 7-day lagged average reported September 3rd was 15.4 new cases per day, per 100K in the population, slightly higher than the 14.7 figure I shared last week. This is an average of 121 new COVID-19 cases per day, compared to 115 per day shared in last week’s figure. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have been at or below a census of 50 each of the last seven days. The capacity in our Alternative Housing Site hotels has been crucial to enabling safe isolation for between 27 and 40 residents over the last week (including 14 residents who could not remain in their congregate settings) to preserve hospital capacity for COVID and other critical needs. We continue to monitor test positivity both countywide (3.1%) and in the Healthy Places Index lowest quartile census tracts (4.1%). Our testing was reported by the State at 845 tests per day per 100K population. 

Vaccination update

The State immunization registry report of September 5th showed that 92.2% of our total eligible County population aged 12 and older have received a COVID vaccine. This is 620,084 total eligible individuals vaccinated. Our updated estimate of the number of unvaccinated eligible San Mateo County residents is now 52,000. 

We and other health care and pharmacy partners continue to plan for the roll-out of third booster doses for those who become eligible pending receipt of federal and California guidance. The guidance will likely prioritize those populations that received their Pfizer second doses at least 8 months ago, including health care workers, first responders, and older adults, including residents of congregate facilities. The guidance for Moderna and Janssen recipients will follow.  In the meantime, we remain focused on increasing the reach of the vaccine in the communities and populations that still need to attain at least <80% vaccination rates. Fortunately, that list of communities and populations has winnowed, as East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks and Older Adults ages 85+ all passed 80% vaccination rates last week.

We are very close to closing the gap in the vaccination rates for 12-15-year-old group, as 79.7% have already been vaccinated with their first dose. We look forward to the eventual approval of vaccines for younger children, which may occur in late 2021/early 2022. Until then, we will continue to partner with the County Office of Education and schools to provide convenient vaccine opportunities for eligible youth ages 12+ and their families. 

We see that we have reached 80.4% 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. While the following communities still show vaccination rates below 80% and we are eager to close the gaps, we are trying to get to more precise estimates of our remaining unvaccinated population in these communities as we know population estimates in smaller communities can be less precise.

Communities under our goal of at least 80% vaccinated

Geographic Community as of 9/5/2021 # of 1st and single dose vax given by any entity in past 7 days % vax with 1st or single dose Estimate # eligible unvax # of 1st & single dose vax given by County Health in past 7 days
Broadmoor 8 69.8% 1,427 1
El Granada 9 65.8% 1,905 0
Loma Mar* 0 68.6% 54 0
Moss Beach 4 52.7% 1,468 0

*Vaccinations by city are calculated by geocoding and aggregating self-reported addresses by city or town. Population estimates are less precise for areas with small population.

Of the total county residents who have been vaccinated, 58.4% are people of color, 36.3% 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 8/29/21 % age 12+ vax as of 9/5/21 % increase since 8/29/21

Estimate # eligible unvax 

Black / African American 60.3% 61.0% +0.7 percentage points 7,004
Hispanic 58.0% 58.9% +0.9 percentage points 71,312*
Multiracial 53.4% 54.2% +0.8 percentage points 9,680
Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander 61.7% 62.5% +0.8 percentage points 3,665

*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.

Pop-up clinics continue to be a strong strategy to move us closer to achieving our vaccination goals with every population and community, so keep those ideas coming using this form. We have 66 clinics either completed or moving forward (an increase of 1 since my last report). 

All Together Better,
Louise F. Rogers