Following weeks of supply constraints, San Mateo County may get a higher supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming weeks, officials said Tuesday.
This week, the county received around 31,000 first and second doses overall, which includes allocations to both San Mateo County Health and to multi-county vaccine providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.
Projections from Blue Shield of California show that the county's weekly vaccine supply could triple by the end of June, according to Dr. Anand Chabra, San Mateo County Health COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief.
Chabra said these are the longest set of projections Blue Shield has provided so far in terms of future supply.
"Those projections are helpful," Chabra said. "Even though we recognize they can always change, at least it gives us something to work with in terms of planning."
The Blue Shield arrangement has not been hugely beneficial to the county's vaccine rollout so far, Chabra said, but they have made it work.
"I feel like we had a good network of providers," Chabra said about the county's vaccine rollout prior to Blue Shield's involvement. "Collectively, we were getting vaccines out very quickly and we were vaccinating a good number of people and doing it quite equitably, so I don't think there were a whole lot of problems to fix in San Mateo County."
Chabra said he looks forward to the day they're no longer constrained by the vaccine supply.
Given the promising supply projections, County Manager Mike Callagy said that Blue Shield seems to be hitting its stride.
But Callagy acknowledged that the last several weeks have been frustrating given the supply constraints for the health department. In addition, the limited lead time around dose projections made it hard to plan for vaccine clinics.
"It just takes so much coordination and resources to get clinics going, especially the neighborhood clinics," Callagy said. "And you want to get information out. It's just so sporadic right now."
Limited supply prompted the county to pause its mass vaccination sites and focus on neighborhood clinics in the hardest-hit communities.
As soon as the vaccine supply increases, Chief of San Mateo County Health Louise Rogers said the county is ready to begin mass vaccination sites again.
"We have not dropped the ball on planning these mass vax events. We are ready," Rogers said.
Despite the supply limitations for the health department, Rogers said the county does not appear to be negatively or disproportionately affected compared to neighboring counties.
For example, Rogers said that San Francisco is receiving about 1.3 times the number of doses received by San Mateo County and its eligible population is about 1.2 times that of San Mateo.
As of Monday, 63 percent of San Mateo County's eligible population had received at least the first dose of the vaccine compared to 64 percent in San Francisco.
This week in San Mateo County, neighborhood vaccination clinics continue in Daly City, East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Pescadero/La Honda, which are some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Just over half -- 51 percent -- of individuals in the county's most vulnerable communities have received the vaccine.
For more information on vaccination efforts in San Mateo County, visit https://www.smchealth.org/covid-19-vaccination-program-overview.