FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno County continued to see low demand for the COVID-19 vaccine this week, prompting the County Department of Public Health to change its strategies.
Joe Prado, who is leading the vaccine distribution effort in the county, said the county was allocated roughly 40,000 doses of the vaccine next week, but they only asked for 15,000 given the low demand.
“We knew that this was going to happen at some point. I think it’s happened earlier than we would have liked,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said regarding the low demand.
The Fresno Fairgrounds vaccination site was closed this week as they prepare to move to a different location within the Fairgrounds. Prado said they’ll be resuming vaccinations next week, but at a lower capacity of about 500 to 1,000 doses a day.
The vaccination site at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics will administer its last first doses of the vaccine on Friday. May 14 will be their last day of administering doses altogether, said Rick Lembo, the director of sports medicine at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics.
And after a low demand for the vaccine at the vaccination site in Mendota and Central High School this week, Prado said the Mendota site will be putting more focus on Saturdays and the Central High School site will be closing down for now.
He said on Tuesday, both sites combined administered just 25 doses, when they have the capacity to administer around 600 a day together.
“These types of adjustments we’ll need to make because we can take those resources and mobilize them better,” Prado said.
He added that they want to keep the UCSF Fresno vaccination site at Fresno City College running given the location of it and that it has easy access.
The UCSF Fresno site has been administering doses on a first come first serve basis. No health insurance is needed.
On Wednesday, UCSF Fresno said it paused its first come first serve services and focused only on existing appointments for the day due to a gap in funding. They also paused their COVID-19 testing.
However, Dr. Kenny Banh, the director of the UCSF Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project, said during the Fresno City Council meeting on Thursday that they had secured a contract with the Fresno County Department of Public Health for them to resume vaccinations on a first come first serve basis for those 16 and older. However, that did not include COVID-19 testing.
Fresno City Council Vice President Nelson Esparza called an emergency meeting on Thursday to address funding for UCSF Fresno to resume testing. City Council approved up to $310,000 for testing with an immediate allocation of $100,000.
“Every day that we’re not vaccinating people, every day that we’re not testing people, we’re potentially losing lives,” Esparza said. “I think we have the opportunity here today to ensure that it’s resumed right away.”
And the Fresno County Department of Public Health is trying a more targeted approach with the vaccine and taking it to where they’re at.
Prado said in partnership with the African American Coalition, vaccine doses will be administered at the FoodMaxx on Fresno Street on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.