Contra Costa County extended coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 years old or older who lives or works in the county on Monday, regardless of whether they have an underlying health condition.
Contra Costa Health Services officials said the expansion is due to an increase in the supply of COVID-19 vaccines given to the county from the federal government for its federally qualified health centers. These new allocation of vaccines from the federal government is being given in addition to the vaccines already allocated from the state each week.
"We look forward to the coming months when we can do away with vaccine eligibility, when anyone and everyone is eligible," Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Diane Burgis said in a statement late Monday morning. "More and more doses of vaccine are coming into the county each week and we expect that trend to continue."
Previously, the county's eligibility had included anyone 65 years old and older, as well as people 16-64 with underlying health conditions. Now, anyone between 50-64 years old is eligible.
The new eligibility requirements open up vaccination opportunities for a significant portion of the county, which according to health officials contains more than 235,000 residents between the ages of 50-64.
More than 336,000 county residents have received at least one dose of vaccine as of Monday according to county health officials, who say that 96% of recipients are 75 or older.
"COVID does not affect everyone the same," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county's health officer. "Older people are more likely to suffer severe disease. Nearly all of the COVID deaths in Contra Costa have been among people over the age of 50. We are making good progress vaccinating those in the groups already eligible and will now continue to prioritize more of the most vulnerable groups in our community."
"We are fortunate to have three highly effective vaccines right now," Dr. Farnitano added. "All the health officers in the Bay Area strongly recommend getting whatever vaccine you can to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community."
In addition to residents who are 50 and older, residents who are 16 and older with qualifying underlying health conditions are also eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines as are people who work in certain essential fields such as front-line health care, food or grocery services, and education.
Contra Costa County residents can check their eligibility or request a vaccine appointment through the county online at www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-vaccinated or by calling 833-829-2626.