Fresno county gears up to vaccine more Valley children, as hospitals face crisis levels


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Top Fresno Health officials addressed the overwhelmed healthcare system on Friday during their weekly press call regarding COVID-19.

“We really are in a tight squeeze,” said Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch. “The hospitals are really in a crisis mode.”

Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said while there was a slight decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations for Fresno County a couple of weeks ago, the number of patients walking through the door is back up.

On top of that, Vohra said in the last year mental health calls and psychiatric holds are on the rise.

“All of these different pieces fit together,” said Vohra. “COVID is just one piece of it. Obviously, it is a significant piece of it, but we are hoping to get the vaccination number as high as possible to alleviate that risk.”

As several Central Valley hospitals across the county declared internal disasters due to the high number of hospitalizations, Lynch said patients continue to wait for a bed, ambulances are turning away non-urgent calls and doctors are canceling elective surgeries.

“It is a domino effect,” said Lynch. “When we are in this type of situation it is really impacting the rest of the hospital.”

According to the Fresno County Health Department’s website, around 56% of Fresno County’s million residents are vaccinated against COVID-19 and 30,000 have received a booster shot.

The county began vaccinating 5 to 11-year-olds this Wednesday. Rick Lembo with Sierra Pacific Orthopedic said this will be a big task.

“When talking about a critical mass there are roughly around 110,00 5-11-year-olds in the county and that is not an insignificant number,” said Lembo.

Dr. Kenny Bahn said the UCSF drive-thru site has gotten the Pfizer shot into the arms of around 200 5 to 11-year-olds in the last three days. He expects, even more, this weekend.

“I have heard that a lot of people are coming in this weekend,” said Banh. “So we are staffing up, making sure that we have the vaccine and lots of staff to take care of the kids that are coming through.”

You can sign up for a COVID-19 shot here.

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