The updated Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are now available at select pharmacies like CVS in the Bay Area. The CDC and FDA recently approved these vaccines, which specifically target newer variants of the virus. This development comes at a time when positivity rates in the region remain high. According to the state’s COVID-19 website, California currently has a seven-day positivity rate of 12.8%. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have slightly higher rates at over 7%, while other counties such as San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin range from 11.1% to 13.1% positivity rates.
Even though hospitalizations remain relatively low, UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong advises people to get vaccinated, particularly due to the presence of new variants. He explains that the vaccines not only prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death but also provide a buffer against infection for a certain period of time. Furthermore, getting vaccinated may help prevent long-term effects of COVID-19, also known as long COVID.
Residents like Nora Villagran from San Jose are eagerly awaiting their turn to receive the vaccine. Villagran emphasizes the importance of vaccination in protecting not just herself and her loved ones, but also her community. The vaccine rollout in pharmacies like CVS is a step towards increased accessibility. However, other community clinics and organizations are still waiting to receive doses.
Nonprofit organizations like Mission Food Hub in the Mission District and Roots Community Health Center in the East Bay are eager to offer the updated vaccine to their communities. However, they are currently waiting for more information on when they will receive their supply. The federal Bridge Access Program, which provides no-cost COVID-19 vaccines to adults without health insurance, will play a role in distributing vaccines to these organizations.
For those without health insurance, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is working with the Santa Clara Valley Healthcare Patient Access Department to assist with enrolling in eligibility programs. Individuals are encouraged to call 1-866-967-4677 for further assistance.
Sources: state’s COVID-19 website, UCSF, KPIX 5.