County Administrator's Office
For Immediate Release

Sonoma County reaffirms commitment to vaccinate seniors 75 and older

Santa Rosa,CA | February 02, 2021

Sonoma County officials reaffirmed their commitment to prioritizing the county’s most vulnerable population - those 75 and older - in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations by announcing several new opportunities for seniors in this age group to schedule appointments. Health officials also pledged that more clinics would be coming online in the near future.

“The 36,000 seniors in this age bracket represent our most vulnerable residents,” said Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “They have accounted for two-thirds of all of the COVID deaths in the County. Due to our limited supply of vaccine, we are in triage mode, and we must prioritize this most at-risk group first. We don’t have time to wait.”

Sonoma County residents 75 and older are encouraged to schedule a vaccination appointment through their primary health-care provider as their first option. As an alternative, the County has supported the creation of multiple vaccination clinics to target this population. Residents will be asked to show ID and those under 75 years old will be turned away. Current clinics are:

Sonoma County is one of several counties in the state that is prioritizing seniors 75 and older in the rollout of vaccinations due to the high number of senior residents in our community. With a population of 102,000 seniors 65 and older, Sonoma County does not currently receive enough vaccine supply to serve this large population. Besides being the most vulnerable, seniors 75 and older also tend to be less computer literate and often require assistance to schedule an appointment.

County officials experienced the difficulty of preserving appointments for those in the age group last week during the rollout of an OptumServe clinic in Rohnert Park, in which many appointments initially went to those younger than 75. Since Monday, Jan. 25, when the opening of this clinic was first announced, it was emphasized that the clinic was designated for those 75 and above.

Given the County’s concern about OptumServe's ability to have website controls in place to limit the appointments to those 75 and older - as they were still fine-tuning the scheduling website - the County did not share the link with the public but instead made clear these appointments were “by invitation only.” The County’s Adult and Aging division, working with the Health Equity Manager, identified groups that work with vulnerable seniors to fill the initial appointments.

Eventually, however, the link was shared on social media and the appointments were quickly filled into early March. Given the lack of controls on the OptumServe scheduling site, 85 percent of those who made these reservations were under 75. This was equal to about 9,000 reservations for first and second doses.

As a result, the difficult decision was made on Friday to cancel all appointments made by those who did not fit the requirements of being 75 and older. The cancellations were announced at a news briefing on Friday. In many cases, those making appointments also were not ensuring the necessary 21-day gap between first and second doses. As a result, all appointments for second doses have been rescheduled.

All of those who received first doses will be allowed to receive a second dose regardless of age. Those who have already had a first dose do not need to take any action in rescheduling a second dose. OptumService will be assigning them a new date and time.

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, or call 2-1-1