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The Fresno County Department of Public Health met its goal of administering 3,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine a day by hitting the target on Friday.

“The goal was reached through the combined effort of three local vaccination operations that began this week.

We’re definitely right above that,” Fresno County’s community health manager announced during a Friday afternoon call with reporters.

“We’re doing roughly about 1,500 to 1,600 at our Fresno Fairgrounds site,” Joe Prado said.

Across town, Sierra Pacific Orthopedic staff vaccinated 1,110 recipients at its north Fresno drive-thru site on Friday. They’ll open again on Tuesday after taking delivery of another 7,500 doses.

Also on Friday, United Health Centers opened a set up a drive-thru site at Central East High School, where staff administered 500 doses.

Fresno County Seeking to Ramp Up More

The county has so far received 47,000 total doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and has reallocated 77% of them, officials said. On Tuesday, that number stood at 65%.

The county is looking at dramatically increasing the number of providers in the coming days. “We’ve got dozens and dozens, almost one hundred providers that have applied to be vaccine providers,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

As of Friday, Fresno County has reported 79,033 COVID-19 cases, with 932 deaths. Across the county, 648 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID, with just 14 ICU beds currently available.

After a bumpy start to the public opening of the county’s high-volume vaccination center at the fairgrounds, it appears a number of logistical issues have been ironed out. Many who came to the site on Thursday complained about multi-hour waits in line to receive the first of two required vaccine shots.

Marty Cabellero receives her COVID-19 vaccine at the Fresno Fairgrounds site Friday afternoon. (GVWire/Jahz Tello)

Initial Issues Ironed Out

portrait of Nathan Magsig

“Two days ago, obviously, it was a little bit more chaotic out here at the fairgrounds.”Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig

“Two days ago, obviously, it was a little bit more chaotic out here at the fairgrounds,” explains Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. “There was a line where people were waiting for two plus hours just to get the vaccine.”

Magsig says the county came up with a more efficient way to reduce the number of people physically waiting in line by setting up 30 minute pre-scheduled appointment windows. Those who showed up early were asked to wait in their car until their group was called to the front gate for admittance to the facility.

GV Wire℠ observed wait times of 10 to 15 minutes during the lunch-time period Friday.

“I can’t stress the importance of making sure that you have an appointment and not trying to just show up last minute to get a vaccine,” says Magsig.

With additional sites coming online in the coming days, Magsig believes the number of daily vaccinations will continue to grow.

“We hope to be vaccinating anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000 people a week very soon,” says Magsig.

Smoother Operation Friday

“It was excellent. I just have to say, I’m very impressed with how organized it is.” – Kay Davies, COVID-19 vaccine recipient at the Fresno Fairgrounds

Emilio Rodriguez, 76, says his Friday experience at the Fresno Fairgrounds was nothing like what his wife experienced the day before. “Mine was all right. You know, my wife took four hours to get in here,” said Rodriguez.

“Everybody’s standing in line doing what they’re supposed to do,” said dental hygienist Amy Morris.

Marty Caballero says she went online and booked her appointment without an issue. “I thought I was going to have to wait three or four hours. But with the appointment, here I am already.”

GV Wire℠ spoke with Kay Davies in a nearby observation room minutes after she got her shot. She says she had an appointment for 12:30 p.m., but things went so efficiently she got her shot 15 minutes early. “It was excellent. I just have to say, I’m very impressed with how organized it is,” said Davies.

A spacious patient observation room is set up adjacent to the building where COVID-19 vaccines are being administered. Nurses were on hand to monitor patients for any adverse reactions to the vaccine. (GVWire/Jahz Tello)

Drive-Thru Versus Walk-Up

The Fresno Fairgrounds location is currently offering walk-up service, while two other sites offered drive-thru vaccinations.

County officials say the two approaches allow them to evaluate the different options.

“I’m glad that we have the experience that we do,” says Vohra. “We’ve done thousands of people through a drive-thru site at SPOC and now we’ve done thousands of people at the walk up site (at the fairgrounds).”

Vohra says planners weren’t sure which option would be most efficient for moving people through the line quickly. Additionally, unlike COVID-19 testing, vaccine recipients need to be monitored for possible adverse reactions for at least 15 minutes after getting the shot.

“If somebody has an adverse reaction in a car, and they’re across the parking lot from you, are you really going to be able to see and monitor them?,” Vohra said. “This is uncharted territory for all of us.”

Vohra expects “many more” sites to come online next week, and it’s up to them whether they offer drive-thru or walk up service.

Additionally, the county is looking at other sites within the fairgrounds property to maximize the space available.

GV Wire℠ asked Prado if a drive-thru site is a future possibility at the fairgrounds.

“That’s a possibility, I wouldn’t take that off the table completely, but that is definitely something we can look at,” said Prado.

Kay Davies tells GV Wire℠ her 94-year-old mother is coming to the fairgrounds on Wednesday to get vaccinated, and she would prefer a drive-thru option for her.

She’s going to have a difficult time, you know, with the distance and all that,” said Davies.

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