With 20,000 open appointments, Contra Costa County will expand COVID vaccines to residents 16 and up

A week after opening up coronavirus vaccine appointments to residents and workers ages 50 and older, Contra Costa County officials are already planning to dramatically expand the eligible age group since it has 20,000 shot slots available.

Contra Costa Health Services spokesperson Will Harper said Monday the county expects to expand vaccine eligibility to anyone who is 16 or older and lives or works in the county later this week.

“It depends on how many requests we get from those currently eligible, which is why we encourage them to get their appointments now,” Harper said.

The county has about 20,000 vaccination slots open for anyone currently eligible to get their shots.

“While the timing for moving to that group hasn’t been finalized, we are concerned about the number of appointments available at our community clinics this week,” Harper wrote in an email. “We constantly evaluate the number of vaccine doses coming to us as compared to the number of appointments available and use that to drive when we open eligibility.”

About 44% of Contra Costa County residents who are 16 or older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 25% are fully vaccinated, according to the county’s vaccine database.

While other Bay Area counties are struggling to vaccinate their eligible residents, Contra Costa County is actively seeking out more people to give them doses. One reason for this trend is that Contra Costa County has recently benefited from a new federal program aimed at inoculating medically underserved communities and disproportionately affected populations by distributing vaccines to a select number of federally-qualified community health centers. On top of its weekly vaccine allotment from the state, the county has also received thousands of additional doses from the federal government.

Contra Costa County’s anticipated vaccine eligibility expansion to all adult residents and workers comes as California is set to significantly expand the number of vaccine-eligible residents across the state — though not as far as Contra Costa.

Starting Thursday, Californians ages 50 and up in all 58 counties can officially get vaccinated through regular channels such as public health departments and health care providers. And two weeks later, on April 15, all Californians 16 and older will become eligible for a vaccine.

Eligible residents may request a vaccine appointment through Contra Costa County by filling out an online form here or by calling 833-829-2626.