County officials announce vaccine milestone, call for an increase in supply
By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, March 30, 2021
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the state on March 27, asking for an increase in vaccine allocations for the county. While county officials are emphasizing that county allocations of the vaccine have remained flat over the past month, it also announced this week that 25% of county residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 45% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Today marks an important community milestone in Sonoma County’s battle against COVID-19,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Board of Supervisors, in a statement about the vaccination milestone. “We are very grateful for the partnerships with our local health care providers that have enabled all of us to reach this point. The good news is we have the capacity to administer far more doses each day. We are eager to do that. We are just hoping to see our vaccine supply increase soon. There’s still more work to do, and we all still need to be safe, but we are gaining the upper hand.”
Though the county is making headway on its vaccination efforts, the letter sent to state health officials points out that vaccine allocations for Sonoma County have remained flat since February, averaging 15,000 doses per week, with an expected decrease in coming weeks. The county’s vaccination capacity is much higher than its vaccine availability, with the capacity to vaccinate over 40,000 people per week.
“Sonoma County’s allocations are projected to decrease over the next three weeks,” reads the letter sent to state health officials by Hopkins on behalf of the board of supervisors. “As of late yesterday, we were notified that our allocation has been decreased to 12,890 doses next week and is projected to decrease even further the following two weeks. Sonoma County has been a strong state partner, successfully ramping up capacity to meet the state’s announcements of increased allocations. Significant resources have been directed to expanding our capacity to equitably distribute vaccines. It is disappointing that this effort has been met with a decreasing supply of vaccines for our community.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom is anticipating an increase in vaccine availability over the next month, with California’s vaccine supply expected to increase to 3 million doses from 1.8 million by the middle of April. This comes at a time when the state is preparing to open up vaccine eligibility for state residents age 50 and older on April 1, with residents 16 and older being eligible on April 15.
However, in Sonoma County, vaccine eligibility is currently restricted to residents age 65 and older, those in certain job sectors or residents are 16 and older with severe medical conditions. According to the county’s vaccination portal, it’s currently working its way through vaccine Phase 1b- Tier 1, not yet distributing vaccines to those in the Phase 1b-Tier 2 category. The county is expecting to enter Phase 1c of distribution, which includes people ages 50-64 and opens up a new range of business sector eligibility, in spring or summer, the website states.
The county began its vaccination rollout in January by focusing on those aged 75 and above, an age group that makes up 10% of county residents but accounted for nearly 75% of deaths since the pandemic began. The result is that 65% of residents age 75 and older are fully vaccinated while nearly 80% of Sonoma County residents between the ages of 70 and 74 have now received at least one dose and more than 52% are fully vaccinated.
“The good news is all this progress means we are moving closer to opening our economy more and possibly moving into the orange tier. But getting an appointment is going to be a challenge for a while, even as the supply of doses slowly increases,” said Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase in a statement.
Vaccine distribution in California and Sonoma County is still making the transition to the state’s third party administrator, Blue Shield. At some point soon, vaccine appointments will need to be made through the Myturn.ca.gov web site. County health officials recommend that those who have not yet been vaccinated should register on the site and become familiar with how it works.
This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com