County to start vaccinating residents 70 and older starting on Monday

By Katherine Minkiewicz, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, February 6, 2021

Starting Monday, Feb. 8, Sonoma County residents aged 70 and older will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines at county-designated clinics and at 11 Safeway pharmacies in Sonoma County. Each Safeway pharmacy will be able to handle up to 20 appointments per day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Safeway pharmacies in both Sebastopol and Guerneville will be offering the vaccine. You can also make an appointment at the  West County Health Center vaccination clinics in Sebastopol (at Analy High School) and Guerneville.

The OptumServe-run clinic at the Rohnert Park Community Center will continue to only serve folks 75 years and older.

“We started with our most vulnerable seniors 75 and older for a reason — because they are our most vulnerable. We needed to give them a head start so they wouldn’t lose out on getting vaccine appointments,” said Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “So far, thanks to so many of our community-based organizations involved with seniors, we have made progress in getting our most senior residents vaccinated or at least getting them appointments for vaccinations in the near future.”

In a community COVID briefing held Friday afternoon, Hopkins said the county has also supplied vaccines to a couple of clinics targeted for specific groups within Phase 1b of the Tier 1 group.

“For example, West County Health Centers is now providing vaccine to individuals performing agriculture, farm and field work collecting and processing agriculture products including dairy, egg, poultry, and meat production, as well as individuals involved in the production of food or beverages including wineries and distilleries. This does not include administrative or sales staff within these industries,” Hopkins said.

West county has also been encouraged to prioritize and target vaccine outreach to individuals who are 70 and older and also those know to have comorbidity such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other conditions that are identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These appointments for vaccination are invitation only due to limited vaccine supply.

In addition, the Sonoma County Office of Education will start offering vaccines to staff members over 70 along with essential childcare workers on Monday at Rancho Cotate High School.

As of Feb. 5, the county has distributed 53,713 vaccine doses. This equates to at least 10% of the county’s eligible population over the age of 16.

“It’s significant that we have managed to vaccinate at least 10% of our population in about five to six weeks,” said Sonoma County Vaccine Chief Dr. Urmila Shende.

Up to 33,045 Sonoma County residents have received their first dose and up to 10,334 have received their second dose.

Case rates

While the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet widely available, COVID case rates for the county are inching down.

Sonoma County’s adjusted new case rate per 100,000 residents per day is 26.9. Just five days ago the county’s case rate was at 34.3, according to Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase.

“It is still well above the seven new cases per day per 100,000 that we need to move into the less restrictive red tier,” Mase noted. The county has been in the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The county’s testing positivity rate is now 5.8%, which would put the county in the red tier once the case rate comes down.

“We also need our test positivity of those in the lowest quartile of the healthy places index, the measurement of COVID-19 response equity, to be in the low 8%. At today, it’s 10.8%, but that is also down from the previous week,” Mase said.

Just this week the county has seen 10 more COVID-19 related deaths and of those, six were folks aged 75 and older, according to Hopkins.

Ahead of the Super Bowl, Mase urged folks to stay at home and to not attend Super Bowl parties unless it’s a virtual party over Zoom with folks from your own household.

She noted that Sonoma County has seen a surge in cases following every major holiday and that folks still need to follow social distancing and health and hygiene practices and wear a mask when interacting with people outside of your household.

“We’re definitely making progress, but we still have a way to go before we are into the red tier and making progress to getting out of the pandemic,” Mase said.

Starting Monday, Feb. 8, Sonoma County residents aged 70 and older will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines at county-designated clinics and at 11 Safeway pharmacies in Sonoma County.

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