“1 Million Doses by July”: Health Services Presents Vaccine Goal for Contra Costa

%22Syringe+and+Vaccine%22+by+NIAID+is+licensed+under+CC+BY+2.0.+Courtesy+of+NIAID+on+Flickr

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“Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Courtesy of NIAID on Flickr

Tristan Shaughnessy, Editor

At a Feb. 2 Contra Costa Board of Supervisors meeting, the county health services director issued a firm promise to residents anxiously awaiting their vaccination against the coronavirus.

“We’ve made a commitment to deliver 1 million doses by July 4,” said Anna Roth, speaking via Zoom to an audience of county supervisors and other observers.

As of last week, nearly 130,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered throughout the county. Roth said that for the foreseeable future, getting Contra Costa’s residents vaccinated would be the health service department’s top priority.

The department currently guarantees appointments for any resident over 75, and has already begun vaccinating people between ages 65 and 74. Appointments can be made at https://cchealth.org/ or by calling 833-829-2626.   

Securing supply has been the biggest obstacle to realizing widespread immunity against the virus, as unmet federal production targets and surging global demand have both limited the county’s access to the vaccine, according to Roth. With Moderna and Pfizer collectively producing between 12 and 18 million doses per week, the county’s supply is unlikely to change until new vaccines become authorized. 

Nevertheless, county health services have created an expansive network to distribute all available doses, opening 45 fixed sites and 110 temporary clinics since the vaccines’ introduction, said the county’s deputy health officer Ori Tzvieli.

In the meeting, Gilbert Salinas, the health department’s chief equity officer, also explained county efforts to promote an impartial distribution of the vaccine that reaches all its constituents.

“We are looking at every aspect of this vaccine rollout from an equity perspective,” said Salinas. This includes hiring community members as Adult Ambassadors, creating mobile clinics, and doing outreach to communal places of worship and farm worker sites, among other locations. 

County health officials said they hope to reduce the growing discrepancy between vaccination rates among historically marginalized communities in Contra Costa and other, more affluent areas. “We are dealing with issues around equity, and we see this as an urgency across the board,” added Salinas. 

Also in last week’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to create an advisory committee that will recommend budget allocations for 95 percent of the revenue generated from Measure X, a countywide, half-cent sales tax that was approved by Contra Costa voters in November.

The measure is estimated to raise $81 million in annual revenue, which the county plans to use to address issues outlined in a yearly, county-based needs assessment. 

Areas anticipated to benefit from the new revenue stream include “fire and emergency services,” “youth services,” and “access to shelter.” Officials said the committee, to be composed of 17 community members, will offer citizens a chance to participate in the county’s annual budget process, an opportunity welcomed by callers during the meeting’s public comment period. 

The Board of Supervisors would still have to approve any recommendations made by the advisory committee when drafting the final budget.

Also last week, the board unanimously approved a temporary cap on the fees that third-party delivery services can charge restaurants in Contra Costa. Following the lead of Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Danville, the board set the cap at 15 percent, meaning a delivery company cannot charge a restaurant more than 15 percent of an order’s value for its services.

The ordinance is not meant to pass on savings to the consumer, but is seen as a much needed relief for local restaurants struggling during the pandemic. Officials said the fee cap will be suspended after restaurants are allowed to begin indoor dining at maximum capacity, or at the earlier request of the board. 

In addition, supervisors considered the need for a continued moratorium on the eviction of residential and small-business tenants. Aligning themselves with the timeline offered in SB-91, a COVID relief bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Jan. 29, the board quickly and without exception agreed to extend the moratorium for residential tenants until June 30, and for small-businesses until Mar. 31.