After receiving no word on San Mateo County’s vaccine allocation from the state on Tuesday night, county health officials learned on Thursday the county’s weekly vaccine doses would be delayed due to winter storms. According to a press release, 14,200 Moderna doses have been caught up in the delivery process and will not arrive this week.
This week’s vaccination clinics are set to continue, but some second dose appointments may be canceled and other planned Moderna doses may have to be switched to Pfizer doses, county health officials said. Scheduling for next week’s clinics is still to be determined.
“Plans for vaccination clinics for next week are being adjusted as needed, based on when the Moderna doses arrive,” the release states. “Vaccine distribution to local health care partners and some large vaccine distribution events may also be on hold until we receive updates from the California Department of Public Health.”
The delay comes as the county is set to begin vaccinating “1B” essential workers, including teachers, police officers and agriculture workers, starting next week.
On Thursday, the county’s Office of Education announced that some teachers would be able to schedule vaccine appointments within the next two weeks. 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. It’s not yet clear how teachers will be notified when they are eligible to sign up for a vaccine or if the delayed shipments will affect the planned vaccine distribution.
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.
“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.
County Health Deputy Chief Srija Srinivasan said the county’s strategy to vaccinate all members of the “1B” tier will partially rely on multicounty providers like Kaiser Permanete, which covers health insurance for many local teachers. Sirinivasan said the county will also 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 seeing dramatic improvements. On Tuesday, 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 Wednesday, 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.”