Santa Clara County vaccine efforts reaching hardest-hit communities

Coronavirus

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — For much of the pandemic, Santa Clara County has been able to minimize COVID-19 infection rates thanks in part to having the highest vaccination rates of any large county in the entire nation. 

According to county data, over 80% of county residents ages 12 and older are now fully vaccinated. 

In areas hardest hit by the virus including East San Jose, significant progress has been made to vaccinate the predominantly Latino and Vietnamese communities. 

“I think it hasn’t been exactly one strategy, I think we’ve taken a very comprehensive approach,” said Dr. Rocio Luna, Santa Clara County deputy executive. “Taking vaccines to people just about everywhere including schools, employer sites, grocery shopping areas, people’s homes.”

Latinos are recording nearly similar vaccination rates compared to the county’s white population with 68.1% and 69.1% respectively. 

The county’s Asian community leads all ethnic groups with an estimated 95% already vaccinated. 

Courtesy: Santa Clara County Public Health COVID-19 vaccine dashboard as of Aug. 26.

“We do still have groups that we still need to focus on, our Latino [group] is still highly vaccinated in the 70% plus [range] or so after the age of 50,” said Dr. Luna.

But despite high vaccination rates in the county, there are some communities in East San Jose who have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine. 

San Jose Planning Commission Chair, Rolando Bonilla is calling on the county to look into increasing vaccine accessibility in East San Jose — where several zip codes are still recording some of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in the county. 

“And to me that’s a problem when 49% of your hospitalization rate as of Aug. 20 is the Latino community and yet we’re only 23% of the population,” said Bonilla. 

“That means we’re not doing enough.”

Bonilla, a COVID-19 survivor, tells KRON4 News now that the FDA approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the county should focus its efforts on targeting those who have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine. 

He is suggesting the county consider reopening the mass vaccination site at the Mexican Heritage Plaza to get more people in East San Jose vaccinated. 

The site was eventually closed due to a declining number of people getting vaccinated.

Mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose in July 2021.

“The message isn’t clear enough,” said Bonilla. 

“We’re at the point now where there’s a small group of folks that need to understand in detail what happens to your body when you have COVID.”

The county tells KRON4 News with schools returning to in-person instruction, they are also focusing on vaccinating the county’s younger population by partnering up with schools to offer the vaccine.

“The younger group the 12 to 15-year-olds are really where we have some work to do, they’re in the high 40s,” said Dr. Luna.

“And so we want to make sure that those kids are getting vaccinated.

Tap or click here to learn more about the county’s COVID-19 response.

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