By the Daily Post staff
Santa Clara County announced this morning that anybody over 65 can get a Covid vaccination through the county regardless of their health care provider or insurance. Hours after the county’s announcement, Sutter Health, the parent of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, said it was going to give shots to any of its customers 65 or older.
“The state’s complex vaccine distribution and allocation system, combined with vaccine supply shortages, has led to an uneven vaccine rollout across the county depending on where people get their medical care,” said Dr. Jeff Smith, Santa Clara County manager.
He’s calling this new initiative the “no wrong door” system.
“The ‘no wrong door’ approach we are implementing is designed to get available vaccines into arms as quickly and equitably as possible in order to save lives,” Smith said.
The new approach comes seven weeks after the FDA granted emergency authorization to the first Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S.
Those who get their health care from Kaiser Permanente or the Palo Alto Medical Foundation seem especially frustrated, according to comments during a telephone town hall meeting Sunday hosted by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, one of Smith’s bosses.
A Mountain View resident who called in during the town hall meeting said she’s a Kaiser member and had been scheduled to get the coronavirus vaccine last week. But her appointment was canceled due to lack of vaccine, she said.
“Why, as a Kaiser member, shouldn’t I be able to go to a county distribution site?” she asked.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think that those multi-county entities are really getting the amount of vaccine that they need for all of the patients that they have,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s Covid-19 testing and vaccine officer, during Sunday’s town hall meeting. “And so that’s the basis for the frustration.”
The county’s website at sccfreevax.org provides information and links for making vaccine appointments with providers across the county. In addition, residents without internet access or who need additional assistance can make appointments for the County Health System vaccine sites through the Valley Connection Call Center at (408) 970-2000. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About three and a half hours after the county issued its announcement, PAMF parent Sutter send out a press release saying that it will vaccinate any of its patients 65 and older.
Eligible PAMF and Sutter patients can schedule an appointment to get a shot through Sutter’s online patient portal, called My Health Online, or by calling (844) 987-6115.
Sutter’s announcement warns, “Not everyone who is eligible will be able to make an appointment right away.”
Also, “Sutter patients should not contact their provider’s office to schedule Covid-19 vaccinations — they’re not able to book appointments or provide scheduling exceptions,” the announcement said.