Fresno County ramps up vaccinations to most vulnerable as COVID-19-related deaths rise

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno County supervisors, along with county health officials, announced Tuesday they now have the ability to administer up to 1,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine daily at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

Fresno County is currently focusing on healthcare workers.

This effort comes as the county reports a significant increase in COVID-19 related deaths. The county last updated the number of COVID-19 related deaths two weeks ago, reporting 711 COVID-19-related deaths. On Tuesday, the county dashboard was updated and now shows that number at 838.

“December was the deadliest month for the coronavirus pandemic in Fresno County and for our state. And what we’re trying to do is to protect those vulnerable populations,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said.

Vohra said those who are 75 and older will be able to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

“If you’re part of the healthcare system, today is your day. This is your week. Come on down,” Vohra said. “We just want to get everyone done in 1A as fast as possible and starting next week, we’re going to open up the 1B tier for those who are elderly.”

Food and agriculture workers will also be prioritized.

Fresno County Department of Public Health is setting aside 3,000 vaccine doses and will start vaccinating those who work in food and agriculture using three different models.

Fresno County’s Joe Prado, who is leading the vaccine distribution effort, said those models will allow them to see which methods of administering the vaccine will be most efficient going into February.

One model will be in an indoor facility that’s had an outbreak. Another will be an indoor facility that’s not as large, where they will have a day of appointments for workers. The third will focus on workers who work outdoors.

“We’re gonna mobilize. We’re gonna mobilize a team, meet them where they’re at, hopefully in a paved area, and be able to provide some vaccines out in the field,” he said.

In addition, federally qualified health centers in rural areas that have received vaccine doses could start vaccinating the ag working community. Prado said that could happen as soon as next week.

“It is different here in the Central Valley. We have a significant part of ag worker community, so we’re expediting that,” he said.

An essential part of building trust and overcoming fears within the food and agriculture working community will be working with community-based organizations, Prado said.

The Latino population in the Central Valley have been some of the most vulnerable throughout the pandemic. The state’s most recent data shows that 47% of COVID-19 related deaths have been Latinos.

“It’s their rightful turn. They’re the ones providing food for us. And they deserve to be next,” Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco said.

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