By Ann Peterson
(Updated Wednesday, Jan. 13) — Rossmoor residents 75 years and older can fill out an online form to request a COVID-19 vaccine appointment as Contra Costa ramps up its distribution.
County residents who are 75 years and older can now join health care workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, as well as pharmacy, dental and veterinary staff, to receive the vaccine. Eligible residents can fill out an appointment request online.
County public health officials said Monday they have an aggressive goal of vaccinating 7,000 people per day and two clinics to complete first-phase vaccines before the end of the month. The county then will administer doses in Phase 1b, tier one, which, along with individuals 75 years and older, includes first responders and workers in education, childcare and food and agriculture.
“Our goal is to not have vaccine sitting around in our freezer,” said Contra Costa Deputy Health Director D.r Ori Tzvieli. “Our goal is to have it all in arms as soon as it comes in.”
CEO Tim O’Keefe said the GRF has encouraged the county to offer distribution inside Rossmoor.
While county health officials haven’t ruled out that option, Tzvieli indicated Monday that county residents could receive shots from their healthcare providers and partner retail pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Safeway.
Some Rossmoor residents on Wednesday began circulating a link for scheduling a vaccine directly with Rite Aid. Residents are advised that this link is for individuals who already made an appointment request through the county’s online form, were deemed eligible and referred to Rite Aid. Residents who did not receive the email directly from Rite Aid may not be eligible and should wait until they are referred by the county to a vaccine distributor.
As of Sunday, Contra Costa had administered 30,245 vaccines to healthcare workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities, part of the Phase 1a distribution group. That was an average of just 1,200 doses a day, CCHS said.
But Contra Costa has opened vaccination sites throughout the county, and has activated its volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to administer vaccines. (Read more about the volunteer program in next week’s News.) The county’s health department said it also is working to tap paramedics for vaccine distribution.
Kaiser, Sutter and John Muir Health, which provide healthcare to the majority of county residents, also have scaled up vaccination efforts and notifications to those who are eligible next, CCHS said.
All of these efforts are helping Contra Costa to take the lead in California, which has struggled to roll out the vaccine. As of late last week, California had received 2 million doses but had administered only about 490,000.
Last week, the state’s vaccine advisory committee decided to expand the individuals who will receive vaccines as part of phase 1b and phase 1c. Initially, those groups were to include most older Californians if they have medical conditions, but after public appeals, the committee decided to drop the underlying health condition requirement.
In the second tier of Phase 1b, doses will go to people 65 to 74 years old, prisoners, homeless individuals and workers in transportation and logistics, critical manufacturing and industrial, residential and commercial sectors. In Phase 1c, the vaccinated group includes people 50 to 64 years old, individuals 16 to 49 with underlying medical conditions or disabilities, and workers in defense, energy, information technology, water and wastewater, chemical and hazardous materials, communications, financial services and government operations.
The underlying medical conditions that can qualify someone for phase 1c are cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking and type 2 diabetes.
The focus on vaccines has taken on heightened importance as the state contends with a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
The Bay Area remains under a state stay-at-home order after failing to climb back to at least 15% availability of ICU beds.
On Dec. 8, most Bay Area counties voluntarily implemented the order, closing some businesses, including outdoor dining and hair salons, reducing capacity in retail stores and prohibiting gatherings outside of one’s household. On Dec. 17, the Bay Area fell below 15% of ICU bed availability, officially triggering the state order, which was set to last at least three weeks.
As of press time, the Bay Area had only 3% ICU bed availability. The shutdown won’t lift until the Bay Area once again has a minimum of 15%.
If the county decides to distribute vaccines inside Rossmoor, residents will be notified via Nixle, Rossmoor.com, Channel 28 and the Rossmoor News.