San Mateo County health officials have a message for the public when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination: Keep it up.
Health officials are pleased with the strong demand for COVID-19 vaccinations for children and a rise in boosters, they said at a meeting of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 7.
Since the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, 38% of eligible children in that age group have had their first injections, said Louise Rogers, chief of the San Mateo County Health System. It’s a good start, as a recent survey by the Kaiser Foundation found that nationwide, only a third of parents planned to have their children in the eligible age group vaccinated, she noted.
Rogers recognized the challenges ahead of the rise of the ommicron variant.
“This is a time when we need resilience and stamina,” she said. Rogers stressed that it is important for anyone who is eligible to be fully vaccinated and to get their boosters.
Rogers said her department is encouraged by the initial turnout and hopes it will continue to increase as more clinics become available. The health department is working with the San Mateo County Office of Education to set up vaccine sites in 13 school locations, she said.
dr. Anand Chabra, chief of the province’s COVID-19 mass vaccination division, said the province would have a more complete picture of vaccination coverage for children aged 5 to 11 by next week.
The county health department will continue to push for more public education to help parents understand that the vaccines are safe and necessary, especially in light of the recent appearance of the ommicron variant. Omicron is thought to be more transmissible than previous variants, including the ubiquitous delta strain, but it’s not yet known whether it causes a more serious infection, Rogers said.
Some good news: The level of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the province has not risen much, remaining at 10 to 15 patients in the past seven days, she said.
The province is also seeing a high demand for booster shots among people who have already been fully vaccinated, she said.
On Dec. 6, the province faced understaffing for clinics due to the high number of people coming to the walk-in clinics, she said. The province encourages people to make agreements so that sufficient staff can be prepared. RogersShe said the county needs more help from contracting authorities to meet rising demand.
So far, a total of 80.4% of all eligible residents in the province have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 74.6% have been fully vaccinated, Chabra said. In comparison, 64% of all Californians have been fully vaccinated and 59.9% of all residents in the country have received full injections, he said.
The county is currently in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “moderate” tier for infections. It has a test positivity rate of 1.5% overall and a 2% rate for residents of the state’s lowest quarter of the Healthy Places Index. The index examines the most vulnerable population groups based on economics and access to health care and other inequalities.
Rogers said the county doesn’t yet have data to show whether infection rates are rising as a result of exposure during the Thanksgiving holiday. She said she expects higher numbers to be reflected in the next batch of data provided by the state’s health department.