CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KGPE) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that those 65 years and older are now eligible to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in California.
However, various counties in the Central Valley are moving at different paces and are facing different challenges.
Fresno County opened its vaccine appointments at the Fresno Fairgrounds to those who work in healthcare and included in Phase 1A – as well as those 75 years and older. Californians who are 75 and older are included in the state’s Phase 1B Tier 1.
For those who are included in Phase 1A or are 75 years and older, appointments at the Fresno Fairgrounds can be made here.
Joe Prado with Fresno County Department of Public Health said Tuesday that federally qualified health centers in rural areas that have received doses of the vaccine could start vaccinating those who work in food and agriculture 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,” Prado said Tuesday.
In addition, Prado said they’re setting aside 3,000 doses for the week of Jan. 25, when they will vaccinate 3,000 food and agriculture workers using three different models of vaccine distribution. The goal is that this will show them which models work best for when they begin to vaccinate more food and agriculture workers.
The vaccine schedule for Phase 1A Tier 1 through Phase 1C for the county can be seen here. However, county health officials said the schedule can change. Those 75 years and older were moved to this week, instead of waiting until February.
“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 Tuesday.
Dr. Alex Sheriffs, a family physician and a faculty member with UCSF’s department of family and community medicine, said vaccinating those who are older is essential to protecting the most vulnerable.
“This is especially important for the elderly,” he said. “The older we get, the higher risk we are for more serious disease, for worst outcomes, for death. Vaccination clearly is very, very protective for this.”
Madera County began vaccinating those who are 75 years and older on Tuesday.
The county’s Department of Public Health said those who are 65 years and older will be able to make appointments to receive the first dose of the vaccine sometime before Monday.
Those 65 years and older would be able to make an appointment here at that time.
The Madera County Department of Public Health had previously said those 65 years and older would be able to make appointments to receive the first dose of the vaccine starting Thursday, but later issued a correction. County officials now say that this will happen sometime before Monday.
Tulare County continues to focus on those who are in Phase 1A, which includes healthcare workers and those who work and live in skilled nursing facilities.
Carrie Monteiro with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency said they will be able to move into Phase 1B Tier 1, which includes those 75 years and older and food and agriculture workers, when they have more vaccine supply and available staff members.
“Over 18,000 doses of vaccine have been received in Tulare County and are actively being distributed, but that is still not enough to start Phase 1B,” Monteiro said.
Tulare County is looking for volunteers with medical backgrounds to administer vaccines – and members of the public to volunteer for tasks such as answering phone calls and completing paperwork.
Those qualified and interested can sign up online:
- Medically Trained Volunteers: https://bit.ly/3nF2Pp8
- Non-Medical Community and General Support Volunteers: https://bit.ly/38D21fY
Merced County provided a graphic of where they’re currently at in the phases.
Dr. Eric Sergienko, Mariposa County’s health officer, said Wednesday that they’ve started to move into Phase 1B Tier 1.
Officials started with public safety workers on Friday, and plan to start vaccinations for school staff on Thursday.
With Gov. Newsom’s announcement that those 65 years and older are now eligible, Sergienko said they are going to start with the oldest who sign up through their registry.
“We had the honor and privilege today of vaccinating the oldest person to sign up, who’s a 99-year-old person,” Sergienko said. “We’re working kind of oldest and working toward that 65-year-old goal.”
Residents can fill out the form here to be placed on Mariposa County’s contact list. Once eligible, the county will contact residents to set up an appointment.