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Tulare COVID Vaccine Clinic Turned Away People From San Jose, Oakland

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People not eligible to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine managed to find a way to do so in Tulare County. Somehow, internal registration links that were sent to specific targeted groups were then shared through social media.

It’s unclear if anyone actually got the shot, but Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz told the Board of Supervisors many ineligible people showed up.

“We had people coming from Oakland, San Jose and throughout the state trying to come in this weekend to get vaccinations,” said Lutz.

“We had people coming from Oakland, San Jose and throughout the state trying to come in this weekend to get vaccinations.”Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz 

Lutz also said a lot of people were camped out at vaccine clinics that didn’t have appointments.

“We are also starting to see an increase in aggressive patrons coming out there (to vaccine clinics). They’re frustrated. They want the vaccine, particularly if they were able to sign up for the link,” said Lutz.

He says reactions from those who are told they are not eligible is forcing the county to change protocols moving forward.

“We’ve had some (people)  that have refused to leave, start to rev their engines to intimidate staff,” said Lutz. “Since this is a drive thru clinic, they have also been pretty verbally abusive to our our pod staff.”

Police support has been brought in to ensure the safety of staff members.

The county’s web portal has now been revamped, Lutz said, and the state is working to come up with their own system that counties can use.

Ineligible Registrations

Tulare County HHSA Public Information Officer Carrie Monteiro provided some additional information about the ineligible registrations in a statement to GV Wire℠.

“Upon receiving reports that out of county residents were able to register for our closed COVID vaccine distribution clinics for Phase 1A, Tulare County Public Health actively vetted and verified the confirmed appointments,” Monteiro said.

“Exact numbers varied by site, however we found one of our vaccine distribution clinics to have had 48% of the people registered ineligible, meaning they did not qualify for Phase 1A, did not reside or work in Tulare County. We quickly cancelled ineligible appointments in an aggressive effort to make sure no one who was ineligible received a COVID vaccine. This occurred at our closed COVID vaccine distribution clinics held this past weekend,” she continued.

“The COVID Vaccine Call Center (Dial 2-1-1) being activated this week in partnership with the United Way of Tulare County will serve as the secure vetting and verification screening process for those eligible within Phase 1A to make an appointment for a vaccine at our COVID Vaccine Distribution Clinics being organized by Tulare County Public Health,” said Monteiro.

COVID Vaccine Call Center Activated

The Tulare County Health & Human Service Agency has partnered with the United Way of Tulare County to activate a COVID vaccine call center for residents seeking information about the vaccine.

The call center will be able to provide information on the COVID-19 vaccine schedule in Tulare County, assist residents in determining the distribution phase in which they are eligible to receive the vaccine, and assist those who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to make appointment, the county said in a news release.

Tulare County residents seeking information on the COVID-19 vaccine can dial 2-1-1 to contact the center.

Frustrated With Federal Program

Lutz says he’s frustrated with the CVS and Walgreen partnership with the federal government. Vaccine doses are shipped directly to those providers to then be administered at local skilled nursing facilities.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of those pharmacies just are not getting the allocations here locally,” explained Lutz. He says many Tulare County skilled nursing facilities had signed up to take advantage of the program to get their most vulnerable residents and staff vaccinated quickly.

“We are hearing that scheduling (is now) out into the end of February to get staff at these skilled nursing facilities vaccinated. It is a huge, huge problem for us,” said Lutz.

This is particularly relevant in Tulare County where several nursing homes suffered significant numbers of deaths associated with the pandemic.

In April, Redwood Springs Healthcare Center in Visalia experienced one of the worst nursing home outbreaks in the state with 184 confirmed cases. Twenty-four deaths are associated with the cluster of cases at that facility.

Linwood Meadows Care Center in Visalia also had an outbreak. Lindsay Gardens reported 1 death and at least 68 total cases.

Volunteers Needed

Tulare County HHSA is seeking volunteers to assist in the rollout and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The County is calling on residents with medical experience as well as anyone willing and able to assist in the massive vaccination effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

County health officials are putting out a call to nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, EMTs, dentists, and doctors in an effort to have enough medical workers in place to administer the shots once vaccine supplies are sufficient to begin the next phases of distribution.

The county is also seeking community volunteers to assist in the massive vaccination effort, such as interpreters, computer data entry, and other support roles. Those qualified and interested in volunteering can sign up online:

Tulare County Vaccine Interest Form

Tulare County residents can inform county health officials of their intent to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by completing an online form here.

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