The lull Fresno County Health officials spoke of about a week ago has now turned into a scramble to find ways to entice people into getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Fresno County Department of Public Health re-allocated 70% of the 43,000 doses it received last week to other counties. The only nearby county that accepted was Merced, so the remainder went back to the state’s third-party administrator Blue Shield of CA to dole out elsewhere.
“We don’t want to be holding on to doses that we don’t necessarily need.” – Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado
“We don’t want to be holding on to doses that we don’t necessarily need,” Community Health Manager Joe Prado told reporters Thursday afternoon. “What we’re seeing is the demand isn’t there. And so supply is no longer an issue.”
Next week, Fresno County is requesting only 18,000 doses.
Prado says despite all of the messaging his team has been doing, and even with the opening up eligibility to anyone 16 years old and over, only 50% of the appointment slots were being filled. He says calls to mass vaccination providers tells the same story.
“Everybody is definitely seeing a reduction in demand,” Prado said.
The latest figures from the county’s vaccine dashboard show that 549,533 total doses have been administered (includes residents and non-residents).
41.4% of residents 16+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
- 198,088 residents are fully vaccinated
- 131,583 residents are partially vaccinated
Expanding the Reach
The county is evaluating how effective the mass vaccination sites are, and whether a shift in strategy to more mobile sites is needed.
Prado says he’s working with the Fresno Housing Authority to possibly supply mobile clinics at their locations.
For migrant housing, a mobile clinic was just conducted in Parlier and more are planned elsewhere.
“We’re reaching out to our local churches as well to see if they’re willing to host an event,” said Prado.
Herd Immunity in Question
Interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra says if we don’t get the vaccination rates up to the point where herd immunity occurs this could become a vicious cycle.
“Essentially it’s Groundhog Day,” said Vohra referencing the 1993 Bill Murray film where he continually lives the same day over and over. “We’ll never end this pandemic unless people are protected.”
He says many other diseases have been defeated with vaccines, and believes that if people want to go back to the way things were before COVID-19 getting vaccinated is essential.
Vohra and Prado are not opposed to wooing people to get vaccinated with free lunches, gift certificates, or one-on-one time with medical professionals to explain the vaccine’s benefits.