March 5 Community Update on School Staff Vaccines
Dear Sonoma County School Community,
We would like to share an update on the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE’s) efforts to vaccinate school staff.
As with so many things in the age of COVID-19, the vaccination rollout is complicated and subject to changes and setbacks. These delays are disappointing for all of us as we know that getting school employees vaccinated is a top priority in order to safely reopen our schools.
California recently announced that they are transitioning the management of vaccines from county health departments to Blue Shield with a system called MyTurn. The result is a dramatic and sudden change in how vaccines are allocated. Because of this, as well as winter storms in the midwest, the County of Sonoma has received dramatically reduced allocations and is prioritizing second doses over first doses. Therefore, SCOE has not received its requested vaccine supply for the last three weeks.
For the week of March 8, we requested nearly 4,000 vaccines. However, we only received 1,100—the amount needed to provide second doses to those school employees who already received their first dose. Due to these circumstances, we will unfortunately not be able to provide first doses at the SCOE clinic for the week of March 8.
Fortunately, no scheduled appointments were cancelled. Rather, we were able to secure a number of vaccine access codes which allow educators to make an appointment with Kaiser to receive a vaccination. These codes were issued to everyone who had an appointment at our clinic for their first dose of the vaccine.
Additionally, about 1,500 school employees across five school districts in the Santa Rosa area were provided vaccine signup codes to use in the state’s MyTurn system, thanks to the advocacy of Santa Rosa City Schools and Sen. Mike McGuire as well as SCOE’s efforts to lay the groundwork to use the MyTurn system. These elementary school employees were selected because they were next in line in SCOE’s vaccine priority (Group B).
Another 150 Petaluma-area staff are being vaccinated this weekend through Kaiser-Petaluma. These staff were chosen both because of the local partnership with the Kaiser-Petaluma and because Petaluma-area staff were scheduled to receive vaccines next week (Group C - our current area of concentration). We will continue to work with school districts, health agencies, and lawmakers to identify opportunities like this to secure vaccines.
We were authorized by the County of Sonoma to begin giving vaccines on Monday, Feb. 8. As of Friday, March 5, the SCOE clinic has administered 4,200 vaccines. With the support of other local medical providers working alongside the SCOE vaccination clinic, nearly 6,000 Sonoma County educators have been vaccinated in the last three and a half weeks.
Regardless of our successes to date, many educators remain unprotected and would like to be vaccinated. We know the lack of vaccine supply is a bitter disappointment for those elementary school employees yet to be vaccinated through the SCOE clinic.
Vaccination of elementary school staff follows the completion of our first priority tier—educators over age 70 and anyone serving children in person as of Feb. 8. We set prioritization for elementary school vaccines based on the following factors:
- Clinic capacity - need to start small and scale up
- Virus hotspots within the community
- Socio-economic factors
- Region- focus on vaccinating all schools in a given region together
What is Next for the SCOE Clinic?
We know this news is discouraging, but here is the good news: We have a robust system in place and are ready to begin administering 4,000 doses per week if the supply is provided by the state/Blue Shield. We will be ready to resume vaccinating educators at Rancho Cotate High School as soon as we receive the increased supply of vaccines.
School Staff Do Not Need to Use the SCOE Clinic if They Can Get Vaccinated Sooner Somewhere Else
In the meantime, we have continually encouraged school staff to get vaccinated through other means if options are made available, such as through MyTurn, your healthcare provider, CVS, or a local clinic. In some cases, community health clinics in parts of the county have offered to partner with their local school districts to vaccinate school staff in those areas. This is separate from SCOE and our prioritization, but we encourage and support it. The faster those staff get vaccinated, the faster we can move through our priority tiers.
Thank you for your patience as we work hard to vaccinate all staff as soon as possible. SCOE is the only county office in the state to operate its own vaccine clinic at its own cost, and we are proud of our efforts, which we believe have increased the speed at which school staff can be immunized in our community.
Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.
Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools
Jeff Harding, Ed.D.
Sonoma County Office of Education Vaccine Coordinator