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syringe 3902915 640Barring a major outbreak of variants, Sonoma County, along with the rest of California, will end restrictions, including facial masks June 15.

Although the county again missed benchmarks that would have bumped it into the least restrictive tier, health officials and political leaders Wednesday expressed confidence that a corner on the deadly pandemic, has been turned.

235,000 county residents are now fully vaccinated, according to county supervisor Lynda Hopkins, representing 57% of those 16 and older. Nearly four fifths of all senior citizens have received a vaccine.

It's apparently working. Gary Green, an infectious disease specialist at Sutter Health in Santa Rosa, says the vaccinated aren't needing advanced care.

"I haven't seen anyone with moderate-severe illness who has been vaccinated. The vaccine has been remarkably effective, and downstream in the ICU and the hospital we're seeing the effects of that. And I think we're almost to herd immunity, but we're not quite there and I think the vaccine campaign is important." 

With fewer infections popping up and little sign of highly contagious variants, officials expect Sonoma County to lift all restrictions along with the rest of California, including mask requirements, on June 15th.

Officials are also starting to shift strategies.

After an initial rush for vaccinations, demand has slipped, prompting a switch to smaller sites, 'pop-up' clinics and mobile services. Urmila Shende is the county's COVID-19 vaccine chief.

"At the end of the day on May 28th, we'll be closing the vaccine clinic at the Cloverdale train station, Huerta Gym in Windsor, Guerneville School and Sonoma Valley Veterans Hall."

Other sites, including the county fairgrounds, will remain open. Most sites no longer require appointments. Details are available at socoemergency.org

Health officials said they expect by September, vaccinations will be cleared for children under age 11.

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