Healthcare workers now broadly eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

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Eric He/Town Crier File Photo
A clinician inserts a COVID-19 vaccine dose into a vial.

Everyone included in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which encompasses a broad array of health-care workers, is now eligible to get vaccinated.

Santa Clara County public health officials announced Friday (Jan. 8) that everyone who falls under Phase 1A can now receive the vaccine. That includes health-care personnel, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Those eligible can reach out to their own health-care provider to get vaccinated, or schedule an appointment with the county.

The county’s announcement is in line with guidance from the California Department of Public Health, which directed Thursday (Jan. 7) that local health departments and providers should immediately give vaccines to everyone in Phase 1A in an attempt to “maximize vaccine administration and reduce the potential for vaccine wastage.”

Health-care systems in the county have received approximately 110,000 first doses and 17,000 second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to date. Additional doses have gone directly to groups spanning multiple counties, such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.

There are roughly 140,000 health-care workers in the county, with more than 47,000 receiving their first vaccine dose thus far. That doesn’t include those getting vaccinated through the VA or the retail pharmacy program conducting vaccinations in long-term care facilities, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s testing and vaccine officer.

The state and federal government have created a phased system for distributing limited vaccine supplies. Phase 1A has three sub-tiers, all of which are now eligible to be vaccinated. That includes: hospital staff, long-term care facility staff and residents, medical first responders, dialysis centers, home health-care workers, those in intermediate care facilities, community health workers, public health field staff, primary care clinic workers, workers at specialty clinics, lab workers, dental clinics and pharmacy staff.

Those in Phase 1A can contact their health-care provider to be vaccinated if they are a patient of Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford Healthcare or Santa Clara Valley Medical Center hospitals and clinics, according to the county. Those not covered by one of these groups can get vaccinated through the county, or other providers including El Camino Health.

Once those in Phase 1A are offered the vaccine, the next group – Phase 1B – will be up. Fenstersheib estimated that could happen as soon as the end of the month. That next group includes those 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers, such as first responders, educators and grocery store employees.

Although vaccine distribution is expanding, health officials are still urging people to take precautions as cases remain high. County health officer Dr. Sara Cody said Friday that “we are still in an extraordinarily difficult place in this pandemic,” with an average of more than 1,200 new cases recorded daily in the county.

“Vaccination is absolutely central to working our way out of this pandemic,” Cody said. “But even as we collectively ramp up vaccination, we still have to keep wearing our masks, not gathering, keeping our distance, and all of those things to keep us safe. We’re going to be in this transition period over the next several months.”

For more information on vaccination, visit

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