FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Friday marked the first day that all Fresno County residents age 16 and older were eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I thought it was gonna take longer, so I’m happy,” said Fresno County resident Josh Houser who became eligible Friday and got his first dose of the vaccine at the UCSF Fresno site at Fresno City College.
He said he thought he’d have to wait longer to become eligible, but the Fresno County Department of Public Health decided to expand eligibility earlier than the April 15 date due to the availability of appointments.
“It’s been fantastic. Sitting here reading, I really haven’t had much chance to read a whole lot ‘cause lines been moving the whole time,” he said.
The UCSF Fresno vaccination site at Fresno City College had a little bit of a line before 12 p.m. on Friday, but Dr. Kenny Banh, the director of the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project, said they were prepared to see more people line up today and are preparing for even more on Saturday.
“We have multiple languages available for interpretation. We don’t collect insurance information. We don’t bill insurances. We don’t charge anything. We’re completely grant and donation based services. You don’t need to have any financial information. You don’t even need to have social security. I don’t care about your documentation status. Our only job is to vaccinate people with a lens on equity,” Banh said.
At Sierra Pacific Orthopedics in Fresno, an additional 200 appointments were filled up Friday for first doses, and they’re planning that for next week too.
“Fortunately we were able to create 200 appointments for first doses every day of next week,” said Rick Lembo, the director of sports medicine at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics. “If you go to our website or our Facebook page, the links for those appointments are there.”
According to Fresno County’s most recent data, more than 523,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the county, and 30.7% of the county’s population has now been vaccinated with at least one dose and 40.2% of the county’s 16 and older population has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“What we have to do is our part,” Banh said. “We need to get a high percentage of the population (vaccinated). Only way we’re gonna do that is if everyone does their part.”
And Josh Houser did his part on Friday.
“It’s just been a challenge socially. And with family. It’s really rough with family, knowing that I could be a possible carrier. And I don’t want to infect my mother or my young nephews. I’m very concerned about that. Not so much concerned about my own health. I’m healthy anyway. It’s what I could do to others that I’m more concerned of,” Houser said.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for 16 and 17-year-olds, and they do need consent from a parent or guardian.
The UCSF Fresno site at Fresno City College is administering the Pfizer vaccine and does not require appointments. Appointments at other sites in Fresno County can be made through MyTurn.