Newsom aims to curb vaccination misinformation as Delta variant spreads

Dispelling misinformation and calling understandable anxiety over getting vaccinated are two key tasks Governor Gavin Newsom is tackling in an effort to reduce the spread and severity of the highly-infectious Delta variant of COVID-19.

The Delta variant is on the rise across the United States, and even in California, where more than three-quarters of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Newsom touted the statewide efforts to set up pop-up vaccination sites at churches and barbershops when speaking at a press conference in Los Angeles Wednesday but said that those efforts to make vaccinations more convenient and accessible don't account for people who are resistant to getting vaccinated due to misinformation.

"We need to see more courage of conviction for those that have privately gotten the vaccine but are out there preaching somehow that these vaccines are unsafe or leading the public astray on that. Vaccines save lives," Newsom said.

Solano County is the only Bay Area county to not recommend wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status and is the county with the lowest vaccination rate in the Bay Area. As of Thursday morning, 69 percent of Solano County residents age 12 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 57 percent were fully vaccinated.

"It is pretty clear that the Delta virus has not changed over the last several months, that it is not more effective at defeating the vaccine. The vaccine is still very effective against this variant, and so vaccinated people with immunity are not acquiring illnesses, are not transmitting the illness, so there's just no scientific basis for recommending that they start masking at the present time," Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer, said.

On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health launched a $40 million grant program partnering with small physician networks. Newsom explained that the grants will support small medical practices in counseling and calming their patients who have concerns about getting vaccinated. The grant will also help them safely store and administer vaccines.

"There's a lot of misinformation and there's a lot of understandable anxiety that some people still have," Newsom said.