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Supervisors Press for County-wide Vaccine Plans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             

January 13, 2021

For More Information, Contact:                                   

Jamie Livingston                                                                                                        
(408) 299-5050 office
(408) 309-6418 cell
jamie.livingston@bos.sccgov.org                        


SUPERVISORS PRESS FOR COUNTY-WIDE VACCINE PLANS

SAN JOSE The proposal by Santa Clara County Supervisors Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez to require large healthcare systems operating within Santa Clara County to produce written plans and timelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution passed 5-0 at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting.  

“I know it’s a big lift to collect and coordinate these plans, but the public shouldn’t be sitting around wondering when and where they can be vaccinated as they were with testing,” said Simitian. “And time is of the essence.  We can’t afford to lose a month; we can’t afford to lose a week; we can’t afford to lose a single day.”

Simitian said he was pleased with the recent public health order from the County’s Public Health Department which was issued following the proposal from Simitian and Chavez. “It’s a really solid start,” he noted, “in that it requires plans from Kaiser, Sutter Health/PAMF, Stanford and the County itself by February 1. Ensuring we have a coordinated, comprehensive, and transparent set of plans reduces the chance for anyone to get left behind. All of us have a shared interest in the health and wellbeing of others.”

“Our hospitals are already stretched thin, with bed capacity at an all-time low.  As a county we have lost more than 950 people to COVID-19 while the state has seen over 31,000 COVID-related deaths,” continued Simitian. “The vaccines are critical to stemming the spread of the virus. ‘We’ll get there eventually’ didn’t work out well with testing, and it won’t work now.”

The Board conversation on Tuesday acknowledged the rapidly changing direction from the state and federal governments, as well as the logistical and bureaucratic challenges of the vaccine rollout, including the lack of a thoughtful national plan that outlines how vaccines will be distributed and administered. In Santa Clara County, a patchwork system produces even more uncertainty, leading to the potential for disparities in the quality and clarity of information provided to the public, not to mention the opportunity for inconsistent or incomplete roll-out of vaccinations.

Board members agreed with Simitian and Chavez that detailed plans and timelines that are public and coordinated can reduce confusion, instill confidence, and, most importantly, get the job done in a timely, fair, efficient, and life-saving fashion.  

Vaccines are slated for delivery by the State directly to Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation (by virtue of their status as multi-county entities), rather than through the County’s distribution system. These two providers alone serve about half of the County’s two million residents. Additionally, there are other significant private or not-for-profit healthcare providers (including Stanford Healthcare and El Camino Health), among others, who are not multi-county entities. Most of them will receive their vaccines through the County for their patients. An added challenge will be reaching the so-called missing middle of healthcare—folks who may not have a regular healthcare provider or “medical home.”

“Given all this,” said Simitian, “our only chance of success is a set of clearly defined plans designed to complement one another, and to cover the entire County.”

The required plans should include information on how people, including those who do not receive healthcare from these large healthcare systems, will find out about their ability to get vaccinated, and how available vaccines will be distributed efficiently, consistent with federal and state guidelines. Contingency plans for unexpected situations such as broken freezers or “extra” doses of thawed vaccines should also be addressed in the plan(s).

“Most people have a very simple set of questions,” said Simitian. “When, where and how do I get the vaccine? Every plan should answer those questions.”

The County Administration and County Counsel are scheduled to provide a report back to the Board of Supervisors at its January 26, 2021 regularly scheduled meeting.

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Last updated: 1/13/2021 10:20 AM