Sonoma County reached a major milestone in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic on Friday when health officials issued their millionth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine was administered around 4:30 p.m. to 17-year-old Santa Rosa resident Vanessa Mendoza, who was receiving her second dose at the Roseland Community Center on Sebastopol Road.
“It was really unexpected,” Mendoza said shortly after county health officials presented him with a basket of snacks as a prize.
Although she hadn’t originally intended to get vaccinated, Mendoza said, she changed her mind after the omicron variant led to a winter spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, including included in Sonoma County.
“I noticed that the cases were increasing rapidly. I just saw it everywhere, getting worse,” she said.
On Saturday, the total number of vaccinations stood at 1,000,594, according to a statement released by the county. That uplifting news was tempered by another rising statistic: On Saturday, the county reported five new COVID-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 469 since the pandemic began.
A total of 376,946 residents — 80% of Sonoma County’s eligible population ages 5 and older — are now fully immunized, officials said.
In comparison, 74% of California’s eligible population and 65% of eligible Americans are fully immunized.
“One million doses is an incredible achievement for a county our size,” said Dr. Urmila Shende, Sonoma County vaccine manager. “But more importantly, today we celebrate the impact of each individual dose of vaccine. Each time a person receives a vaccine, they greatly reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19, passing it on to someone else, and becoming seriously ill or dying. Countless people are alive today because they have been vaccinated.
The county distributed booster doses to 215,806 residents. This is 63% of the population aged 12 and over eligible for a booster injection.
Officials noted that the million doses included patients who do not reside in Sonoma County, nor did it account for vaccinations from other health care providers, such as Kaiser Permanente.
Sonoma County has many vaccination clinics and the one on Sebastopol Road is “by far” the busiest, said Tim Tuscany, registered nurse and site manager.
“I think a lot of people are getting vaccinated and we made a good dent,” he said, noting the results are based on a team effort.
The achievement comes as conditions improve in Sonoma County, with case rates dropping from 249 new cases per 100,000 people during the peak of the omicron surge to 40.2 on Friday.
Thursday’s latest data showed 7,565 active cases in Sonoma County — down from the previous week’s count of 13,778.
There have been 464 deaths in Sonoma County since the pandemic began.
Lines at the Roseland Community Center have dropped recently from 400 people a day to around 100. While it used to take patients at least an hour to get vaccinated, Vanessa and her mother were only there a few minutes.
Health experts stress that COVID-19 still exists and they will continue to administer vaccines and boosters.
“We have no intention of leaving,” Tuscany said.
School-based clinics continue to be offered in partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education. The vaccine is also available at most pharmacies, health clinics, and primary care providers. A list of clinics open to the general public is available at SoCoEmergency.org/vaccine.
California relaxed its statewide mask mandate on Wednesday and opened the doors to vaccinated residents to go about their daily lives without face coverings.
Still, county health officials stress that people shouldn’t do away with masks altogether.
“We weathered the worst of the omicron surge. But make no mistake, the pandemic is not over – COVID-19 continues to spread,” county health officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in an interview with the committee on Wednesday. editorial staff of Press Democrat.
Sonoma County officials are deferring to state guidelines, which still require anyone not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a mask in indoor public places.
Certain circumstances require people to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status. Examples include being on public transportation or a public safety worker.
Children who are in daycare or attending K-12 schools in Sonoma County’s 40 school districts are still required to wear masks at this time.
State officials said they would assess pandemic trends through Feb. 28 before presenting a timeline for when mask restrictions could be eased for students.
You can contact editor Colin Atagi at email@example.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi