Santa Rosa, CA – October 7, 2021 – Reaching another major milestone in the battle against COVID-19, the campaign to protect Sonoma County residents from the virus delivered its 700,000th dose of vaccine this week.
The county Department of Health Services announced that 335,148 residents are now fully vaccinated, a number equal to 77 percent of the county’s eligible population. Another 32,657 residents are partially vaccinated, equivalent to 8 percent of the eligible population in Sonoma County.
The 10-month-old vaccination campaign, coordinated locally by the county Department of Health Services in partnership with federal and state health agencies, local hospitals, pharmacies, health clinics and community organizations, has succeeded in delivering at least one dose to 85 percent of the eligible population in Sonoma County, outpacing state and national efforts. By comparison, 79 percent of the eligible population in California and 65 percent of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We have worked hard to get to this point, but we cannot rest while many are needlessly exposed to a virus that preys upon their vulnerability,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer. “People who remain unvaccinated are placing themselves and their families in danger and pose a risk to the rest of our community by making it easier for the virus to spread and mutate.”
The county remains focused on administering first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the 23 percent of eligible residents who are not fully immunized, Mase said. Even as it intensifies initiatives to immunize this group of 95,700 people aged 12 and older, the county is also preparing to support efforts to vaccinate 37,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 starting as soon as November, if authorized by federal regulators.
“The vaccine is safe, effective and widely available for free. Most importantly, it is saving lives,” Mase said. “By bolstering our natural immune systems, it is keeping people out of the hospital and protecting them from the worst effects of COVID-19. It is also slowing the spread of the virus in our community, allowing schools and businesses to remain open, and people who are vaccinated to socialize safely with friends and family who have also been vaccinated.”
The virus, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, is currently concentrated among the unvaccinated. Since January, the hospitalization rate among unvaccinated residents in Sonoma County has been 7 times that of vaccinated residents, and doubled to 14 times the rate of vaccinated residents during the height of the Delta surge this summer. As of Oct. 1, 81% of the 31 people hospitalized in Sonoma County for COVID-19 complications were unvaccinated. All 11 patients with complications severe enough to require ICU admission were unvaccinated.
In all, 26 percent of the county’s 494,300 residents have not received any vaccinations for COVID-19, leaving a large segment of the county unprotected. Almost halfare children under the age of 12, an age group that is not currently eligible for the vaccine. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to review safety data and consider authorizing shots for children aged 5 to 11. In preparation for a potential decision, the county Department of Public Health and local health leaders are drawing up plans to provide free vaccinations to children as soon as these pediatric vaccinations are authorized.
The COVID-19 vaccination campaign began in Sonoma County in mid-December 2020. It expanded and evolved over the next 10 months to make it more convenient for people to get vaccinated, including the use of mobile clinics and events at schools. To ensure the vaccine is distributed equitably, many of these clinics have targeted vulnerable and under-served communities. The county continues to support larger vaccination clinics, including at the Roseland Community Center and the Rohnert Park Community Center.
Mase expressed gratitude to the network of healthcare organizations and community groups that have rallied together to deliver vaccinations in every corner of the community. They include Kaiser Permanente, Providence St. Joseph, Sutter Health, Alexander Valley Healthcare, Alliance Medical Center, Fox Home Health, Jewish Community Free Clinic, Petaluma Health Center, Santa Rosa Community Health, Sonoma Valley Community Health Centers, West County Health Centers, the CURA Project, the Coordinated Outreach Collaborative, the Health Equity Community Group, La Familia Sana, La Luz Center, Latino Service Providers, NAACP, the Pacific Islander Task Force, the Raizes Collective, Roseland CBI, the Sonoma County Medical Association and all the promotoras, or community health workers, who played an essential role in community engagement efforts.
Walk-ups for first and second doses are accepted at most clinics and pharmacies. Residents also may make appointments at the county’s vaccine clinic page or through the myturn.ca.gov web site. Residents who need help making an appointment are encouraged to call the County COVID-19 hotline at 707-565-4667.
For more information, including the latest vaccine numbers, who’s eligible for a vaccine and how to receive a vaccine, community members are encouraged to visit SoCoEmergency.org/vaccine, or call 2-1-1.
Ted Appel, communications specialist
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403