San Mateo County officials say they are expecting more than 14,000 doses of Moderna virus this week after winter storms delayed delivery. That will be just in time to begin vaccinating police, teachers and agriculture workers.
County COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Section Chief Anand Chabra wrote in a statement on Monday that the Moderna doses’ arrival has not yet been confirmed. In the meantime, the county is borrowing Pfizer doses from local health care partners to vaccinate around 800 law enforcement personnel on Monday and 2,300 educators today. More clinics are to come, if the Moderna doses materialize, Chabra said.
“We are planning for additional clinics later this week for grocery and agricultural workers, assuming the Moderna shipment arrives,” Chabra wrote. “Second-dose clinics are also dependent on the arrival of the Moderna shipment.”
The delay, which affected more than half of the state’s weekly expected vaccine supply, comes as the county is set to begin vaccinating “1B” essential workers, including teachers, police officers and agriculture workers, starting this week.
Late last week, county Superintendent Nancy Magee wrote in a press release that teachers who work in person and are considered high-priority will soon get access to appointments for two one-day vaccine events at the San Mateo County Event Center. County Health Information Officer Preston Merchant said teachers will be contacted directly to sign up for the clinic today in order of their COVID-19 exposure risk from a list of educators who work in the county.
Teachers who live or work in San Mateo County are also currently eligible to receive a vaccine through the federal program run at the Oakland Coliseum via the state’s MyTurn website, but appointments have been scarce due to low supply. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that, starting March 1, the state will set aside 10 percent of its weekly doses for teachers, which may help alleviate supply constraints.
“Though vaccine supply continues to be less than adequate, we will continue to work closely with Kaiser San Mateo, Sutter Health/PAMF, and San Mateo County Health in the weeks ahead to ensure we are doing all we can to address the vaccination needs for our education community,” Magee wrote.
Local teachers have been waiting for their turn for vaccines to help protect staff, students and families from COVID-19 once schools begin to reopen. Elsewhere in the Bay Area and state, school districts are refusing to reopen without vaccines.
Meanwhile, the South Coast’s La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District is already open for
elementary students, and Cabrillo Unified School District’s teachers’ union has said its members will go ahead with reopening schools even without a vaccine. In Pacifica, both school districts are waiting for the county’s case metrics to improve before reopening their doors.
County Health Deputy Chief Srija Srinivasan said the county’s strategy to vaccinate all members of the 1B phase will partially rely on multicounty providers like Kaiser Permanente, which covers health insurance for many local teachers. Kaiser, however, has been struggling with supply issues, and only recently opened eligibility for its 65 and older members after the state promised to increase the health care provider’s share of doses. Srinivasan said the county will continue to reach people who get missed by the larger systems.
“We’re striving to find ways to reach those that have shouldered the most exposure while knowing it’ll take some weeks for these workforce sectors to be fully reached by the major entities who are getting the supply to vaccinate them. But the supply remains a constraint,” Srinivasan said at a recent press briefing.
As vaccine distribution continues across the county, local health metrics are improving dramatically. Last week, the county reported an adjusted case rate of 9.6, down from 15.4 on Feb. 9. The county’s positivity rate has also continued to drop, and so has the health equity metric, all of which determine the
county’s opening status. County Manager Mike Callagy said if the numbers continue to stay low, the county could move into the red tier as early as today, which would allow indoor businesses, including gyms, restaurants and movie theaters, to resume at limited capacities.
“This is key to our ability to reopen,” Callagy said “… All good news, all headed in the right direction.”