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Santa Clara County expands vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older

County pauses administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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As of Tuesday, everyone age 16 or older who lives or works in Santa Clara County is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the county, local health officials announced today. Santa Clara County is also pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in response to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While the rest of California is set to expand vaccine eligibility on Thursday, Santa Clara County did so earlier due to an increase in vaccine supply, allowing the County Health System to schedule tens of thousands of new appointments this week, county officials announced in a Tuesday press release.

Stanford is still evaluating whether there will be COVID-19 vaccination mandates for those planning to live on campus “once vaccines are fully and easily available to all,” wrote University spokesperson E.J. Miranda in a statement to The Daily. “No final decisions have been made at this time.” 

“We continue to encourage all eligible members of the university community to seek vaccination appointments through any available distribution channel in the county where you live,” Miranda wrote. 

On Tuesday, Stanford Health Care opened vaccine appointments to those 16 and older. Availability will be determined by vaccine supply, according to Stanford Health Care spokesperson Julie Greicius. 

“We remain committed to vaccinating as many eligible community members as quickly as possible when vaccine supplies allow it,” Greicius wrote. 

Stanford Health Care has the capacity to vaccinate over 10,000 people per day. Vaccines for residents aged 16 and 17 will be given at Stanford Children’s Health, according to Greicius. 

County officials also announced that Santa Clara County has temporarily paused Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution “out of an abundance of caution” and in line with federal recommendations. Federal health agencies are currently investigating a blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six out of the seven million U.S. recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In Santa Clara County, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine represents 5% of administered vaccine doses and has been given to about 60,000 people thus far, according to the press release.

Stanford Health Care has also halted Johnson & Johnson injections and will “hold all use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine until an investigation has been conducted and more information is available,” Greicius wrote.  

Despite the setback with Johnson & Johnson vaccines, county officials stated in a press release that they anticipate “being able to cover all scheduled appointments with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.”

Santa Clara County faced a shortage of doses in March that caused concern among residents and health officials, but now with the increased vaccine supply, the county is able to “fully utilize administration capacity” of healthcare providers and expand “outreach efforts to reduce barriers to vaccination,” according to the county press release. A new shipment of vaccines arrived in the county this morning, and additional doses will arrive next week. 

“After many weeks of supply challenges, we will be able to offer vaccination to those at greatest risk and ensure broad coverage for our entire community,” wrote county vaccine director Marty Fenstersheib.

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Athena Xue is a beat reporter covering vaccines for the Science & Technology desk in News. She is a freshman from Fremont, CA interested in studying biology and product design, and she enjoys watching cute otter videos. Contact her at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.