Contra Costa County may offer vaccination to all 16 and up this week

Contra Costa County is expecting to offer coronavirus vaccinations this week to everyone 16 and older who lives or works in the county as it anticipates a surge in supply from the state and federal government, the county health department announced Sunday.

The move would make Contra Costa County the first in the Bay Area to offer such sweeping eligibility for the lifesaving shots. Contra Costa Health Services in a news release on its website Sunday stated: “CCHS expects to open eligibility to those 16 years or older later this week. Timing for that decision will depend on how quickly available appointments fill in the coming days.”

Spokesman Karl Fischer clarified that the decision was not yet final and that health officials later in the week would make that call on expanding the pool of people who qualify, based on whether anticipated vaccine supply actually arrives and how fast the appointments get snapped up.

The county has thousands of appointments at its community clinics for the week, the news release said. County Supervisor John Gioia told The Chronicle that if they don’t fill up, the county then will consider eligibility for those as young as 16.

“We want to use the vaccine to get it into arms as quickly as possible, because ultimately we want as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially with the spread of the variants,” he said, referring to the coronavirus mutations that are quickly emerging and spreading.

The county urged anyone who is eligible now to book an appointment as soon as possible to beat the coming rush. Currently, those eligible for the shots are people over the age of 50 who live or work in the county, those over 16 who have a high-risk health condition, disability or illness, and certain essential workers.

If the county goes ahead with the step this week, the expansion would precede by some two weeks the same broadening of statewide eligibility guidelines that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday. The state is recommending counties offer shots to everyone as young as 16 beginning April 15, and to those 50 and up as of Thursday this week.

Expanding vaccine eligibility usually leads to long delays in getting appointments and limited availability, Contra Costa Health Services warned.

People who are currently eligible are strongly encouraged to beat the rush by requesting appointments as soon as possible, either by using the county’s online request form at or by calling 1-833-829-2626.

Contra Costa County has been ahead of many counties in vaccinating residents, and opened appointments to people 50 and older last week.

Gioia said that in addition to receiving vaccine supply from the state, the county has benefited from having 11 federally qualified health centers, focused on underserved populations, such as the West County Health Center’s mass vaccination site in San Pablo, that receive vaccine allocated directly from the federal government. Some other counties have said their supplies are so tight, and unpredictable, that they are worried about being able to meet demand very quickly just from the population 50 and older.

Contra Costa County got more than 75,000 doses last week, but doesn’t yet know how much it will get this week, Fischer said.

As of Sunday, 97% of its population over 75 was vaccinated, according to county data, and a quarter of those over 16. Debbie Toth, president of the nonprofit Choice in Aging in Contra Costa, said nearly all older adults she serves are vaccinated, save for a “handful that are afraid of it.”

“I’m not super stressed that people who need it aren’t going to get it,” Toth said.

Mallory Moench is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @mallorymoench

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