Answering COVID vaccine questions; county taking appointment requests for 65 and older
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Bay Area health officials detail rollout plans for COVID-19 vaccine

Access for general population not expected until summer at earliest

By Craig Lazzeretti

Assistant managing editor

Friday, Dec. 18 (3:48 p.m.): With the distribution of the first vaccine for COVID-19 beginning both locally and nationally, many residents are wondering when they will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Bay Area health officers said in a joint statement this week that vaccines may become available for the general population by early summer. For the time being, the limited dosages will be prioritized according to the initial phase of the state’s vaccine-distribution guidelines, starting with health care workers in acute care facilities and then residents in skilled nursing, long-term care and assisted living facilities. The guidelines can be found at

With widespread availability of the vaccines still many months away, the health officers continue to urge residents to adhere to established guidelines for slowing the transmission of the virus and protecting high-risk groups, including wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings, postponing travel, and staying home whenever possible.

“This first batch of vaccines will protect our front-line health care workers so they can help our hospitals withstand the current winter COVID-19 wave and save as many lives as possible,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer, in the joint statement. “Now is the time to double down on our efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic so that we can all stay alive and healthy until there is enough vaccine for everyone.”

As with the rest of the region, cases in Contra Costa have skyrocketed in recent weeks. The county averaged over 36 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the first week of December, roughly triple the rate in the first week of November. The number of people in the county hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped from 45 on Nov. 14 to 185 on Dec. 14.

In their joint statement, all of the region’s health officers said they “plan to take the vaccine when the opportunity comes.”