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County Opens More Vaccination Appointments as Allocation Increases
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
February 20, 2021

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California is set to receive more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week and Fresno County will be getting a bigger share, as well, officials announced during a Friday call with reporters.

21,000 doses of vaccine are headed to the county, which is 2,000 more than the prior week.

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I’m kind of disappointed that we haven’t heard more.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says about a lack of information about a local FEMA mass vaccination site

The Fresno County Department of Public Health is also opening up 9,000 new appointments for ‘first dose’ shots at the Fresno Fairgrounds vaccination center. Those wanting to sign up must do so through the state’s MyTurn registration system. On Friday afternoon, some available appointments were already showing up on the website. “You’ll see more slots available on Monday,” said Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado.

Prado says the vaccine priority continues to be for recipients 65 and older, and health care workers. He says the reason the county is getting more doses is because the state changed its allocation calculations.

The state still has not given the county a three week projection of vaccine deliveries that Governor Gavin Newsom had promised when he visited Fresno on February 10.

“We hope to be able to see that come through, hopefully soon,” added Prado.

Moderna Challenge

Prado said a shipment of 7,800 Moderna doses that was delayed by cold weather conditions across the country have not yet arrived.

“Our communication with our providers is that we estimate to receive these doses actually hopefully early next week,” he said.

But he said the county had enough Moderna doses in storage to avoid any appointment cancellations.

“It is a reminder to all of us how sensitive this distribution system is right now, that things like this will happen and will continue to happen,” said Prado.

FEMA Mass Vaccination Site

A rumored FEMA mass vaccination site for Fresno County still has not materialized.

Newsom visited a mobile clinic in Alameda County Friday morning. Toward the end of his news conference he hinted at what may be coming, but did not provide a location or specifics.

“You’ll hear more and more about FEMA’s second mobile site very shortly,” said Newsom.

GV Wire℠ asked Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra if he or his team had gotten any more information about a possible federal vaccination site here.

“I’m kind of disappointed that we haven’t heard more,” said Vohra. “We’re trying to work all of the connections that we have to get more information and maybe a start date for something like that. But we really don’t have any other updates to share at this time.”

Genomic Testing

Fresno County is finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the state to help test for COVID-19 variants within the valley.

“I think as early as next week we’ll be able to start sending specimens to the state to go ahead and get that genomic testing done,” said Vohra.

KRON-Television reports genomic testing will be conducted at the Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory in Richmond, along with 15 other labs in California.

“When our elderly folks get here, if you need a wheelchair, we’re able to help you with that.”Shantay Davies-Balch, the director of the African American COVID-19 Coalition speaking about new Gaston Middle School vaccination site

Gaston Middle School Site

A new vaccination site at Gaston Middle School just opened this week.

It’s a walkup site designed for those 65 and older to get vaccinated. Organizers briefed the media today on steps they’ve taken to keep people safe and moving through the facility.

“When our elderly folks get here, if you need a wheelchair, we’re able to help you with that,” said says Shantay Davies-Balch, the director of the African American COVID-19 Coalition. “We have chairs outside so that no one is standing for prolonged periods.”

She says for the time being, organizers are calling people in the 93706 Zip code to let them know when it’s their turn for a COVID-19 vaccination.

“We’re calling them. We’re helping them with registration directly,” says Davies-Balch. She says they want to ensure access for those who may not have the same level of computer literacy and for those who need the extra help.

A new vaccination site at Gaston Middle School opened this week. (Fresno County Dept. of Public Health)
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