MARTINEZ, CA — It’s the question on everyone’s mind: when will I get a coronavirus vaccine? The inoculation has been touted as the key to halting the spread of COVID-19, but the rollout of the vaccine program in California has been infuriatingly slow, with less than one-third of available vaccines in use, according to the latest statistics available.
Contra Costa County health officials said they will accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations to as many as 7,000 vaccines a day over the next six months.
That compares to the approximately 1,200 Contra Costa residents who have been vaccinated each day since the vaccines were first available in mid-December.
"We are at the beginning of the biggest public health immunization campaign in history, and it's going to take time," Contra Costa Health Services director Anna Roth said in a statement. "At some point, everyone who wants a COVID vaccine will be able to get one. While we aren't there yet, making vaccines available to everyone is our top priority."
As of Sunday, 30,245 vaccine doses have been administered in Contra Costa, Roth said, to health care workers, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, frontline essential workers, and others ages 65 and older.
The vaccines have been administered by various health providers, including Contra Costa Health Services, John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Sutter Health as well as via the federal long-term care partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
Safeway and Rite-Aid are completing their registration process with the state; Safeway will begin offering shots at one location this week with additional sites coming on board in the next two weeks, county health officials said.
The ramp-up, they also said, to reach community-immunity levels will require 75 percent of eligible county residents -- about 725,000 people -- to be vaccinated. To reach that total over the next six months, an average of about 7,000 people will need to be vaccinated every business day.
Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County's deputy health officer and COVID operations chief, on Monday asked for the public to be patient as health systems build capacity to keep up with the flow of vaccine supply and meet demand.
"We continue to redirect every resource available to getting shots in arms," Tzvieli said in a statement. "At the same time, we are developing partnerships and networks that will ensure every pharmacy and health care provider in the county can provide the vaccine as more and more people are eligible to receive it."
In addition to more vaccination sites opening around the county, Contra Costa Health Services has been shifting staff who have been doing COVID-19 testing to now administer vaccinations. Tzvieli also said that Health Services is working with fire agencies to have paramedics administer the vaccines, and has activated its volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to administer them as well.
Here in Martinez, there have been 1,392 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 9 deaths.
Contra Costa County has reported 48,449 cases and 392 deaths.
— Patch editor Bea Karnes and Bay City News contributed to this story