Fresno County Department of Public Health leaders told the Board of Supervisors they want to deplete all their COVID-19 vaccine supply by the middle of next week.
That’s a shift from an earlier philosophy of holding some back for the required second doses people will eventually need.
“Unless the state brings us more doses next week, we will run out of what’s in our freezer,” said Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra. His goal is that by the end of this week 3,000 doses a day will be administered.
“Unless the state brings us more doses next week, we will run out of what’s in our freezer.”–Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra
That number will still need to more than triple to get a majority of the population inoculated. “We need to really get to 10,000 or more doses, because even at 7,000 a day, over 52 weeks, you only have inoculated half the population,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig.
With now 20% of all COVID tests coming back positive, the county doesn’t want to leave anything on the table, or in the freezer.
“We’ve told our team, don’t worry, get going, keep going with that. We’ll solve that problem if we end up without the second dose,” said Fresno County Health Director David Pomaville.
Pomaville says the county has received approximately 44,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and distributed about 65% of that.
“(They) are either in arms or going in arms very shortly,” said Pomaville. To help ramp up the amount of vaccine going out each day the county is scaling up the operation at the Fresno Fairgrounds. “Our target is to be able to do 1,500 vaccinations a day there,” says Pomaville.
Supervisor Steve Brandau says the new ‘Super Vaccination Center’ set up at the Fairgrounds will provide a real boost. “We’re not experiencing the kinds of problems that you’ve heard about in other counties throughout the state of California,” said Brandau.
First Three Tiers
“Our target is to be able to do 1,500 vaccinations a day there.”–Fresno County Public Health Director David Pomaville on Fairgrounds Vaccine Site
The county is moving quickly to get through Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. There is a lot of information available on a new webpage set up so people can see what tier they fall into.
Some of those getting vaccinated this week include:
- Acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals
- Skilled nursing facility residents and staff (administered by CVS)
- Paramedics, EMT’s
- Public health field staff
- Primary care clinics
- Lab workers
- Specialty clinics
“We‘re going across all three tiers (of Phase 1A) now,” said Pomaville.
The county’s goal is to start vaccinating older adults from age 75 and beyond next week. By the end of the month, Vohra wants to start vaccinating agricultural workers.
More Providers Needed
“We need to really get to 10,000 or more doses, because even at 7,000 a day, over 52 weeks, you only have inoculated half the population.” – Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig
Pomaville says he’s not comfortable with the amount of providers that are currently administering the vaccine. Last week the county said they had about 40 and wanted to add another 40.
“We will also be working with some of the primary care providers to be super vaccinators,” said Pomaville. He says The Spine Orthopedic Center is one example of where they are bringing in their health care partners and getting them all vaccinated on site. SPOC is already receiving their vaccine shipments directly, something Pomaville says is ideal so the county doesn’t have to be the ‘middle man’.
United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley are also very close to receiving vaccine shipments directly to their locations. Vohra may issue a mandate to all primary care doctors that they must be able to administer the vaccine, but he’s not quite ready to pull that trigger.
The county is looking to ramp up to about 25 sites, if possible, that can serve as large-scale vaccination centers. That’s to ensure the county can vaccinate a half-million people by the end of July. The county says at least 75% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.
“Our model is going to be using primarily school sites because they’re commonly known and they have the parking infrastructure, as well as physical infrastructure to be able to accommodate these high throughput sites,” said Pomaville. “We want to set up additional sites at some of the high schools.”
Online Registration Portal
Vohra says he wants the county to set up an online vaccination portal allowing residents to register and receive updates about when they can receive their shots. He envisions people entering their contact information and occupation so the county can then follow up.
“Our team can actually go back and email those people and say, hey, your tier is coming up in the next week or two. Be prepared for that,” explained Vohra.
For some of the earlier tiers, the Fresno Fairgrounds location has an online registration site up and running. Registrants are asked to provide personal information, health insurance information, answer a few health questions, before signing the consent for services. Officials stress the importance of pre-registration before coming to the Fairgrounds as just showing up will result in delays.