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California's COVID Vaccinations are Lagging. Will Fresno Use Fairgrounds to Catch Up?
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
January 12, 2021

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Texas has used 41% of its COVID-19 vaccine, according to figures from Bloomberg’s state-by-state vaccine tracker.

West Virginia, 71.8%. Florida, 44%.

Meanwhile, lagging well behind most of the large states is California at 31.7%.

Even former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is speaking out over the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in California.

Brown told KGO-TV that simplifying the process to where everyone can go to their local elementary school and get a vaccine would be ideal. “You wouldn’t go through any of this nonsense of how old you are, whether you’re a healthcare worker, an essential worker or a cop or a fireman or any of those things,” said Brown.

California has received 2.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a Monday afternoon briefing. Around 783,000 have been administered. Newsom said he’s set a goal of another 1 million vaccinations by this weekend.

“It’s (Fresno Fairgrounds) an excellent example of what a point of distribution site would look like in a public setting if we needed to move a lot of people through through that type of of a scenario.”Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch in December

“Our goal continues to be fast, equitable, and safe vaccinations statewide,” said Newsom.

To that end, the state will be opening mass vaccination sites this week including at Dodgers Stadium, Padres Stadium, and Cal Expo in Sacramento. But, one noticeable omission from Newsom’s midday briefing slides, was a Central Valley location.

The Fresno County health department has used the Fresno Fairgrounds to vaccinate some first responders. It’s so far the most likely candidate for mass vaccinations in the county. “(It’s a) pretty efficient operation they’ve got here and we can move a lot of people through it,” Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch told GV Wire℠ in late December.

So far in Fresno County, 25,480 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

Fresno County Fairgrounds

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“There won’t be just one site within the county where we can expect to funnel every single person.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra

American Ambulance employees were among the initial group of first responders to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated at the fairgrounds in late December.

Lynch said, “It’s an excellent example of what a point of distribution site would look like in a public setting if we needed to move a lot of people through through that type of of a scenario.” The idea of using it as a mass vaccination site is an idea Lynch and others are discussing.

“We do plan on running law enforcement through there, which is there’s a lot more law enforcement in our county than other populations of of emergency workers,” said Lynch.

Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra believes it’s a good site, but maybe not the only one.

“There won’t be just one site within the county where we can expect to funnel every single person,” said Vohra. “We’re already recruiting primary care doctors and clinics that are interested in becoming vaccinating sites. So we’re going to have a lot of different models.”

Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra (left) chats with American Ambulance nurse Jennifer Valeri, medical director Dr. Danielle Campagne and county EMT Curtis Jack in late December at the Fresno Fairgrounds. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Fresno County Online Vaccine Tracking System

The FCDPH just published an online vaccine tracking system that shows the vaccine tiers. But, more importantly, the site gives a breakdown of who is in which tier, and what stage the county is in getting a particular tier vaccinated.

Newsom says California counties have the ability to push forward past Phase 1A and go into Phase 1B if they feel they’ve exhausted 1A opportunities.

In Fresno County, 1B would include:

  • Individuals 75 +
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Education and Childcare
  • Emergency Services
  • Homeless/Unhoused
Fresno County Vaccine Schedule.

Mariposa County Already Vaccinating Teachers

According to the education new site EdSource, teachers and school employees in Mariposa County were expected to be among the first of California’s 1.4 million teachers and other school staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 on Monday.

Half of the rural county’s school staff, 146 people so far, have signed up for the vaccination, said Mariposa County Health Officer Eric Sergienko. A team of nurses will travel from school to school to vaccinate those who have registered to receive the immunization.

Mariposa County is able to move on to vaccinating teachers and others in Phase 1B because it has nearly completed vaccinating medical staff, who are in Phase 1A, he said.

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