Two Bay Area counties already offering vaccine doses to people 50 and older

Many Bay Area counties are continuing preparations to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to those 50 and older.  However, two counties have been doing so for at least two weeks.

Solano County took a different approach to administering doses to its populous. Officials said the "how and why" could benefit all residents eager to get the medicine, but unable to because of inadequate supply.

"I’ve got all of this memorized," said San Mateo County resident Mike Davies as he surfed the state’s COVD vaccination website.

Davies has spent a week in a painstakingly slow hunt-and-peck process. His goal is to schedule a vaccination appointment.

"Every time I go in, there are no appointments available for the ensuing 60 days. That’s the maximum window they let you look at," he said.

San Mateo County isn’t alone in its scarcity of vaccines. Despite promises from the state, neighboring Santa Clara County has had to cancel appointments in recent weeks, due to a lack of supply.

"We have the capacity and the ability to rev up to three times what we’re doing now. But we don’t have the vaccine," said Santa Clara County testing and vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib on Thursday.

Two Bay Area counties, including Solano, started offering vaccinations to those 50-and-older in early March.

Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said his county gives each tier group two weeks to sign up, then starts vaccinating the next group. This, coupled with Solano County’s higher percentage of people who don’t want to get vaccinated – the declination rate – equals a faster, overall vaccination rate process.

"Our community declination rates may well be higher than Santa Clara's. That might mean for each tier that we open, we can get through it more quickly," said Dr. Matyas.

Experts said the disparity between vaccination tiers and rates isn’t as important as population density.

"It’s really key that we start moving down that age range as soon as possible. And the faster we can get to the more densely populated communities, the better off we’ll be," said Dr. Mark Schwartz, a San Jose State University biotechnologist.

That science is little comfort for Mark Davies. Tired of trying to find a slot in San Mateo County, he snagged one, two hours away from the Bay Area.

"I’m gonna be driving through COVID country, which I’m not supposed to be doing," said Davies, due to a pre-existing health condition.

But he said he’s risking it because he no longer has faith in the vaccination system in his home county.