One San Francisco Bay Area county may expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those 16 and older this week

Ed Walsh

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Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Photo courtesy County of Contra Costa

One San Francisco Bay Area county may expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those 16 and older this week

Officially the state of California will allow those 50 and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, April 1, 202, but at least one county in the San Francisco Bay Area may open vaccine eligibility soon to anyone 16 years old and older.

In a press release issued Sunday March 28, 2021, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) wrote: “CCHS expects to open eligibility to those 16 years or older later this week. Timing for that decision will depend on how quickly available appointments fill in the coming days.”

Contra Costa Health Services is encouraging anyone who is currently eligible for COVID-19 to request the vaccine right away, not to wait until Thursday. The sooner the county gets the 50 plus age group vaccinated, the sooner county officials can expand vaccines to those 16 years old and older

Contra Costa County officials are strongly encouraging all those eligible to beat the rush by requesting appointments as soon as possible using this online request form at cchealth.org/coronavirus or calling 1-833-VAX-COCO (1-833-829-2626). People currently eligible for appointments in Contra Costa County include anyone who is 50 or older and lives or works in the count and anyone who is 16 or older and has a high-risk health condition, disability or illness and lives or works in the county

Also currently eligibile are essential workers who live or work in Contra Costa, including healthcare personnel, emergency services workers, education and childcare workers, agriculture and food workers, transportation and logistics workers, and anyone who lives or works in a congregate living space in the county

Contra Costa Health Services expects this week to expand eligibility to the 16 and over age group BUT it cautions that anyone seeking the vaccine live in the County of Contra Costa.

County officials say that each patient must have their own appointment. Families or couples cannot book themselves on the same form.

Contra Costa Health Services says it does expect a “sharp rise” in requests for the COVID-19 vaccine when new eligibility is added, and it cautions that long delays are likely on the appointment request phone line. County health officials are asking that anyone who is able to do use the online request form instead of phoning. The county says it will save time over trying to get through on the phone.

Two weeks ago, Contra Costa expanded eligibility to ages 16-64 and older with qualifying underlying health conditions. Last week the county removed any health-related qualifiers for those between the ages of 50-64.

"We look forward to the coming months when we can do away with vaccine eligibility, when anyone and everyone is eligible," said Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Diane Burgis. "More and more doses of vaccine are coming into the county each week and we expect that trend to continue."

"COVID does not affect everyone the same," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the County's health officer. "Older people are more likely to suffer severe disease. Nearly all of the COVID deaths in Contra Costa have been among people over the age of 50. We are making good progress vaccinating those in the groups already eligible and will now continue to prioritize more of the most vulnerable groups in our community."

"We are fortunate to have three highly effective vaccines right now," Dr. Farnitano said. "All the health officers in the Bay Area strongly recommend getting whatever vaccine you can to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community."

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