COVID-19 vaccine, testing sites set to close soon
Pharmacies, providers to provide shots, testing kits as costs shift to consumers
COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites that served millions of Bay Area residents are set to wind down their operations in the coming months, signifying an end to a key part of the region's massive mobilization of public health resources that ramped up three years ago in the first days of a once-in-a-century pandemic.
The impending closures come as COVID-19 cases across the region trend downward — and an announcement from the White House that the pandemic's national emergency and public health emergency will end in May.
Overall, the changes from the local to the federal level generally mean that costs for Covid-19related health care will shift over to consumers. Vaccines and testing still will be largely available through private health care providers and pharmacies.
On Feb. 1, Santa Clara County announced it would dismantle its three remaining vaccination and testing sites by the end of the month.
“We are transitioning from a full-blown response to one where we're adapting to live with COVID,” said Santa Clara County's Public Health Office Dr. Sara Cody at a news conference on Feb. 1. “We're in a better and safer place.”
The vaccine and testing closures will occur Feb. 2428 and will affect San Jose's county fairgrounds site, as well as locations in San Martin and Mountain View. County officials said that it still will be providing vaccines on a smaller scale at its clinics and hospitals for mostly low-income residents.
In total, the county doled out 1.9 million shots since the first vaccines were available in winter 2020, according to Cody, who was generally considered the driving force behind the country's first lockdowns in March 2020 imposed on 6 million Bay Area residents in six neighboring counties. The Bay Area's first case was discovered in Santa Clara on Jan. 31, 2020.
All told, the pandemic response is estimated to have cost Santa Clara roughly $1.3 billion, county data shows.
“It was a monumental effort,” said Cody about the past three years. At the height of the pandemic, the county was administering 30,000 shots a day at 10 locations — even using the San Francisco 49ers' Levi's Stadium as a mass vaccination site at one point.