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Santa Clara County is aiming for herd immunity by August, despite the late start of vaccination

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Eric He / Town Crier

The clinician inserts the dose of COVID-19 vaccine into a vial at the location of El Camino Health in Mountain View.

Public health officials in Santa Clara County hope that by August 1, 85% of the eligible population will be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that the healthcare system needs to be armed with 13,000 vaccinations a day.

When the mark was announced at the county oversight committee on Tuesday (January 12), the county’s COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer, Dr. Martifenstershake, said it would be a “difficult goal to reach.” I admitted that. Nevertheless, the county attempts to reach herd immunity by midsummer. However, even as the healthcare system grows in capacity and mass vaccination sites run smoothly, there remain major concerns such as the amount of vaccines available, constantly changing state and federal guidance, and hesitation among residents. I will.

The county began providing vaccinations to residents aged 75 and over, extending beyond health care workers and long-term care facility residents to Phase 1B residents. However, it lags behind the state’s announcement earlier this week, opening vaccinations to people over the age of 65. The problem is actually getting enough vaccine for the dose.

As of last week, the county had been vaccinated with 166,900 COVID-19 vaccines. The county demanded 100,000 additional doses from the state on Monday, but received only 6,000, according to county executive Dr. Jeff Smith.

“That’s not enough,” he said. “Our restriction step at this time is access to vaccines.”

Listed as a vaccination site for people who are not patients with large medical systems such as Kaiser, Stanford, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Elcamino Health has all vaccinations for the next two weeks within hours of its opening. I saw the reservation Its online booking system More slots were opened from next week to people over the age of 75 last Wednesday by Thursday morning. A spokeswoman said vaccination from the county was important to keep expanding access.

Smith added that the county will continue to demand more vaccines from states that have been criticized for being slow to deploy so far. Federal uncertainties about how the Biden administration differs in vaccination programs have led to local frustration.

“Every other day, we seem to receive different messages from the state and federal governments,” said Fenstershake.

And while there was strong public demand for vaccines, even among healthcare professionals, there is too much hesitation for comfort. Fenstersheib, the county has seen “many cases” of people fearing approved vaccines because of false information and pressure from friends and family.

COVID update

Meanwhile, county hospitals have been flooded with COVID-19 patients due to the surge in holidays, and the morgue is full. There are 689 patients admitted with COVID-19, 3.5 times more than at any other time during the pandemic. The daily case rate remains five times the previous peak. Health officials believe that the rate of increase in both cases and hospitalizations is not so rapid and may be heading in the right direction.

However, the damage has already occurred.

Hospitals are postponing non-urgent procedures and reducing outpatient surgery as ICU capacity remains in the low single digits and about half of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Director of Healthcare Preparation for COVID-19 in the county, warned that this would prevent patients other than COVID-19 from receiving the care needed for serious health conditions. This is an urgent medical consideration for patients with sufficient illness to seek ICU care.

It is not enough to increase the capacity of ICU from now on. Kamal expects the county to bear a long-term “debt” in postponement medical care.

“These people get sick and their needs grow, so we’ll pay off this debt over the next few months to years,” he said. “They aren’t going to leave.”

The only solution, said Dr. Sarah Cody, a county public health officer, is to reduce the burden on hospitals that have already reached their limits of “performing high-wire acts.”Even if Cody quotes New Yorker Articles She praised the Bay Area for being better at preventing COVID-19 deaths than New York City or Los Angeles, and regretted more than 1,000 deaths in the county alone.

“I wish I could have prevented more hospitalizations and more deaths,” Cody said. “I feel that each of these deaths could have been prevented in some way.”


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