SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - Bay Area county health officers say COVID vaccines supplies are plentiful, but they are urging people to make appointments and be patient as demand for vaccine shots and boosters is rising.
Marin County's website shows many clinics already fully booked, and across the Bay Area, residents say it can be hard to find walk-in times, because appointments are filling up before the holidays.
"Most boosters do require an appointment. So, a little bit of planning is required," said Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County Health Officer.
County health officers say there's no problem with supplies. The problem is timing. There is pent-up demand, due to clinic closures during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That is coinciding with a surge of people getting their second or third pediatric and booster shots.
"We have all these kids coming back three weeks later for their second dose. On top of that we have more kids coming in for the first dose and lots of adults coming in for boosters," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the Contra Costa County Health Officer.
"I wanted to get it as soon as I could," said Katie Tsou of Novato who waited in a line at the Marin County Health pop-up clinic inside San Rafael's Northgate Mall Tuesday evening.
"It was great. It's a pop-up and you can come right in here," said Ronald Evans, a San Rafael resident who says he came to get his Pfizer booster shot.
About 800 people managed to get an appointment at the clinic Tuesday. The county website shows other clinics already are fully booked into December as some people hope to get a booster shot before the Christmas holidays.
"I have elderly parents I'm taking care of, and I wanted to make sure I could be around them," said Katie Tsou.
"I have friends and family that are immuno-compromised so taking care of them taking care of myself is important to me," said Drake Tsou of San Diego.
"We're just encouraging all of our friends and families to get the booster so we can celebrate Christmas together," said Julie Evans, a San Rafael resident who says she plans to have a family gathering.
With news of the omicron variant, some people said they feel better knowing they'll have a booster shot.
"It is a concern, so having a booster is a preventive," said Dean Tsou of Novato.
Bay Area counties say they are prepared to ramp up if there's a need for a special omicron booster shot.
Some counties also are doing surveillance to see if the omicron mutation is circulating here in the Bay Area.
"We do have some limited capacity to do a whole genome sequencing in our own local public health lab and we're able to sequence several dozen samples every week. We also have the ability to send samples to the state for additional whole genome sequencing," said Dr. Farnitano.
Santa Clara County health officials say they’re using genomic sequencing on up to 40% percent of samples that test positive for COVID-19 to see if the Omicron variant is present.
Dr. Farnitano says in a few weeks, the demand for vaccine shots should ease and appointment options will become more plentiful. He and other health officers urge people to be patient and check the myturn.ca.gov website to make an appointment.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.