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‘That’s Not Acceptable’ : Limited Vaccine Supply Prompts Appeal from Karbassi, Council

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In a plea to President Joe Biden, the Fresno City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking for a dramatic increase in COVID-19 vaccine allocations for Fresno County.

“We don’t have enough vaccine,” said Councilman Mike Karbassi, the resolution’s sponsor.

Photo of Mike Karbassi

“We don’t have enough vaccine.”Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi

In addition to the appealing to the president, Karbassi’s resolution asks Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Beccera for help. Karbassi hopes their ties to California might lead them to act on Fresno County’s behalf.

Karbassi says, “We have half the vaccination rate of the state. That’s not acceptable.”

The resolution lays out the local case by noting Fresno County had requested 38,000 doses from the California health officials the week of January 24 and was only allotted 8,000. Karbassi’s resolution further states the county has the capability to administer 45,000 doses a week,  a number that continues to grow.

I’m extremely supportive of the resolution in asking for more (vaccine doses),” said Councilmember Esmeralda Soria.

Additionally, the resolution states Fresno County has a poverty rate of of 20.5% making it among the highest of California counties and nearly double the state average.

“We All Want More Vaccines”

Portrait of Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias

“We all want more vaccines.”City Councilmember Miguel Arias

Before the resolution was voted on, City Councilmember Miguel Arias said he’s had meetings with the county about deploying more of the vaccine currently being held in reserve by the health department.

“We all want more vaccines,” said Arias. “But there’s been a lot of attention being paid to the deployment of those vaccines and the decisions the counties are making separately.”

He says other counties have allocated 90% of their supply.

“The last time we checked in Fresno County, we had 40 percent deployment,” said Arias. “So in our weekly meeting with the county, we are working through and pressing on them to deploy faster.”

Karbassi responded by saying Fresno County made the strategic decision to hold back some of the supply to ensure people that had gotten a first dose would in fact get the second for maximum immunity. “(That) is why we’re making this plea,” said Karbassi.

Arias: ‘Governor Does Not Have Vaccines’

Esmeralda Soria

“I think they (Fresno City College) have about two hundred folks ready to help us.”City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria

Arias says he’s fully aware that much of the criticism about the vaccine rollout has been directed at state officials, and Governor Gavin Newsom in particular.

“The governor does not have vaccines. They don’t even touch the vaccines,” said Arias. “Their job is to try and make sure that the systems locally are available for the deployment. The vaccines come directly from the federal government to hospitals, to pharmacies. to counties.”

Arias says he’s hopeful the city of Fresno, and cities of similar size, will get their own direct allocations of vaccines. “So that we can organize our own staff to open up community centers, fire stations, police stations and help with the deployment,” says Arias.

Arias believes it will take an “all hands on deck” approach to get to the point of full immunity.

Fresno City College Ready to Help

Soria says Fresno City College has submitted a plan to be able to assist with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. She says college staff is already trained, and students have been receiving training as well.

“I think they have about two hundred folks ready to help us,” announced Soria.

Kaiser Housekeeping

Soria is also pushing for more education and outreach to vulnerable workers who may be hesitant about being vaccinated.

I’m hearing rumors that at Kaiser (hospital), only 40 percent of their housekeeping people are getting the vaccines,” Soria said as an example of why messaging is so important.

Copy of City Council Resolution