Logistics of distribution is a major challenge for health professionals

Photo courtesy Westmont Living
A resident at Westmont Living gets vaccinated Wednesday Jan. 20. A total of 103 residents and staff were vaccinated, receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. They will receive their second dose at their next clinic date Feb. 10. That date will also allow some other staff members to receive their first dose. Ninety-six percent of the residents received their first vaccination.

Santa Clara County residents getting inoculation for COVID-19. Photo courtesy Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

By Marty Cheek

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is now administering COVID-19 vaccines to more than 6,000 county residents a day at multiple sites.

The County Health System has administered 32,352 first doses and 6,594 second doses to eligible healthcare workers and individuals age 75 and older as of Jan. 14. County officials at a Jan. 15 press conference said they are on track to vaccinate more than 30,000 residents per week.

However, delivery of vaccines from the state has been slower than anticipated, causing inconvenience for residents. Some who have shown up for appointments for their shots have been told that there are no doses left because the county ran out.

All healthcare systems in the county are vaccinating workers eligible under Phase 1A. Some have expanded eligibility to include individuals 75 and older, while Kaiser Permanente is offering limited vaccine appointments to individuals age 65 and older. The latest updates on vaccine eligibility and how to schedule an appointment is available on the county’s website at sccfreevax.org.

As of Dec. 31, healthcare providers in the county have received more than  40,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and more than 54,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, plus additional deliveries directly to multi-county entities, such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.

“Frontline medical responders provide crucial assistance to those in need, and in turn face potential exposure to COVID-19 every day,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer for the County of Santa Clara in a press release. “This is a critical population that is both at-risk and essential.”

Since the Thanksgiving holiday, California has faced a surge of infections unparalleled across the country, leading throughout the month of December and January to daily record highs in hospitalizations and deaths. More than 1,158 people have died of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County as of Jan. 22.

The logistics of distributing vaccines for COVID-19 and organizing the inoculation of individuals has seen major challenges faced by health professionals and local leaders. County planning to inoculate residents and workers includes providing vaccine education and enrollment, storage and handling capacity assessment, and other activities.

Despite the arrival of the vaccines, the public still remains in the most dangerous phase of the pandemic, with COVID-19 spreading rapidly throughout the county, the state, and across the country.

“Your individual actions matter,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Otto Lee. “Together we can help change the course of the pandemic as we wait to reach a high level of vaccine coverage and protection. Today is an exciting day with the announcement of this significant expansion in our capacity to provide vaccinations by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Together we will see the end of this pandemic.”

Marty Cheek