How California counties stack up in their vaccination efforts

San Diego ranks seventh in the state
Posted at 6:57 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 22:08:41-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Despite long lines and occasional glitches, San Diego County leads Southern California in the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100,000 residents and ranks among the top performing counties statewide in that metric.

Providers administered 10,475 doses per 100,000 San Diego County residents as of Monday, according to state data analyzed by ABC 10News. That places San Diego County seventh statewide in the rate of doses administered, as all 58 counties try to maximize their scarce allocations.

Experts caution that the numbers issued by the state can lag and are not a perfect representation of a county’s vaccination efforts. For example, the data can be affected by residents who live in one county and work in another. In the case of healthcare workers who commute across county lines, they would appear in the data under the county where they live even though they would most likely receive the vaccination at their workplace, one county public health officer noted.

Still, the data provides the best estimation of a county’s relative vaccination efforts made public so far.

San Diego, with a population of about 3.3 million, was significantly outpacing neighboring counties like Los Angeles (8,646 doses per 100,000), Orange (8,640) and Riverside (8,617) as of Monday.

The top six counties all had smaller populations than San Diego. Napa County led the way with 14,581 doses per 100,000 residents, followed by Marin (13,158), Butte (11,548), Placer (11,095), Contra Costa (11,053) and Mendocino (10,718).

County health officers contacted by ABC 10News agreed the primary factor affecting the vaccination rollout is the availability of doses. Many have employed similar strategies to the ones in San Diego such as centralized super stations, rapid response wait lists and mobile deployment teams, but there are some differences.

Lessons and suggestions from across the state

Contra Costa is the largest county with a rate higher than San Diego’s, with a population of nearly 1.2 million.

“We’re really focusing on both speed and equity,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano.

Unlike San Diego County, which is experimenting with the state’s MyTurn scheduling portal, Contra Costa’s data team built its own scheduling system from scratch, Dr. Farnitano said.

“We can tweak our system. We can tweak our algorithms so we can prioritize appointments for people in hard-hit communities,” he said.

People submit information such as the industry they work in, their age and other demographic information. Then the county prioritizes them and reaches out later to offer appointment slots.

It is not a first-come, first-served system. Dr. Farnitano said that helps with both equity and efficiency.

“As we see how much vaccine we have this week and how many appointments we have, we release a certain number of tickets to say, ‘Okay, you're now approved to schedule,’” he said. That way, “when they go into that ticket, there will be appointments available for them. They won't have to be frustrated by trying to schedule, each time finding they're not able to schedule.”

Contra Costa County is getting enough vaccine to administer about 3,000 doses per day, but the county has the existing capacity to do about 6,000, he said.

Marin County ranks second in the state in the rate of doses administered.

“From day one, from the very first day we received doses, we weren't putting anything in storage,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.

While noting that his county could administer far more doses with more supply, Dr. Willis attributed some of his county’s relatively high vaccination rate to clear guidelines.

In San Diego County, some healthcare providers are vaccinating Phase 1A individuals and people 65 and up. Other providers are vaccinating people 75 and up.

In Marin County, there’s one standard: Phase 1A individuals and people 75 and older.

“I think that's also increased our efficiency by having a single rubric that we're applying across the county, rather than Kaiser doing one group, Sutter doing a different group, public health doing a different group,” he said. “It's all the same, so it's very simple. The public has a clear understanding of who's up and who's getting vaccinated.”