Bay Area health officials urge prioritizing vaccines for ages 65 and older, citing mortality rates

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Patients in age groups older than 65 account for 84 percent of COVID-related deaths in San Mateo County, 92 percent in Marin, 90 percent in Santa Cruz, 81 percent in Santa Clara and 82 percent in Contra Costa, according to health officers.
Photo credit: CDC

Slowing deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines have prompted Bay Area health officials to urge the prioritization of doses for patients 65 and older because they have the highest mortality rate among those infected.

The joint statement of Bay Area health officers was released amid both shortening supplies of vaccine and widening debate over who should be prioritized to receive them. Health experts say COVID-19 mortality data shows the importance of prioritizing limited vaccine supplies for people ages 65 and over in advance of other groups, such as educators, food and agricultural workers, and emergency services personnel.

Patients in age groups older than 65 make up 84 percent of COVID-related deaths in San Mateo County, 92 percent in Marin, 90 percent in Santa Cruz, 81 percent in Santa Clara and 82 percent in Contra Costa, according to health officers.

“Across the Bay Area, weekly dose allocations from the State of California – based on a formula designed to ensure fair distribution statewide – have slowed compared to shipments in December and early January,” health officials said in a joint statement. “With the current pace of supply, it will take several weeks to offer a first dose to all older adults who would like to be vaccinated.”

Currently, Marin, Napa, Santa Cruz, and Solano counties are prioritizing residents age 75 and older, while Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties are prioritizing people age 65 and older. That’s in addition to eligible healthcare workers, many of whom are now expecting their second doses.

On Monday, the Contra Costa County School Boards Association (CCCSBA) and 14 school board presidents sent a joint letter calling on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and Contra Costa County Health Services to “immediately ensure” priority vaccine access for education and childcare workers to ensure schools can reopen for the benefit of academically, socially and emotionally impact children.

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