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'Thousands' of Local Vaccination Slots Open as Eligibility Expands to 16
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
April 8, 2021

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Anyone 16 years and older can get Pfizer vaccines, and those 18 years and older can get either the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Fresno County officials announced Thursday.

Occupational and age restrictions have been lifted in order to fill all open appointment slots and to ensure all who want the vaccine, are able to get it.

“What we did notice in the entire system early this week was a lull,” Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado told reporters during an afternoon briefing. “We have thousands of appointments that we made available and there’s thousands still available today.”

“We have thousands of appointments that we made available and there’s thousands still available today.”Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado

As of Thursday afternoon, the county advised providers not to turn anyone away even though the signup system through the state’s MyTurn portal wasn’t updated.

Prado says the county received 48,000 vaccine doses this week, only 6,000 of that is the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The J&J vaccine has so far been prioritized for homeless individuals and mobile clinics serving the agricultural community. This week the health department also gave prioritization to hospitals who are in a good position to provide vaccinations to skilled nursing facilities that still need them.

Fresno County has now seen 99,685 total cases of COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic.

1.2 Million Doses By August

Prado says when the vaccination effort began in December, his team set a goal of administering 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by August.

“We’re still definitely on track to meet that,” said Prado. He says the reason they’ve decided to expand the vaccine eligibility now is because of a lull in people coming in to get vaccinated.

“We want to keep the momentum going,” explains Prado.

To date, the county has administered 480,426 doses. The percentage of those 16 years and older with at least one dose of vaccine is 37.39%.

  • 159,720 residents have been fully vaccinated.
  • 136,993 residents have been partly vaccinated.

Hardest Work Still Ahead

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“We really need to let people know that if we want to get back to normal, the light is at the end of the tunnel and we can actually make this tunnel a lot shorter if we all just get vaccinated.”Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra

Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra says the remaining vaccinations are actually going to be harder than the initial months in the campaign.

“The low hanging fruit has been picked and now the fruit is harder and harder to try to get at in terms of getting people and to get their vaccine,” says Vohra. “We really need to let people know that if we want to get back to normal, the light is at the end of the tunnel and we can actually make this tunnel a lot shorter if we all just get vaccinated.”

Prado agrees that an uphill battle for the rest of the vaccination effort lies in front of him.

“Our next five hundred thousand doses, we’re going to put a lot of resources and put a lot of focus into it,” says Prado. “It’s going to probably take us longer to get to that.”

Sierra Pacific Orthopedics Adds Appointment Slots

Sierra Pacific Orthopedics immediately opened up 200 first dose appointments for Friday and each day next week after the county announced the expanded vaccine eligibility.

“Check our website and Facebook page for appointment links tomorrow and for next week as well,” said Rick Lembo the director of sports medicine at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics. “We are vaccinating with Pfizer. The single dose J&J is available as well as long as our supply lasts.”

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