Low supply means Fresno County is conserving COVID-19 vaccinations: ‘This is a huge setback’

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – As Fresno County hits the grim milestone of over 1000 COVID-19 related deaths, Fresno County was forced to pump the breaks on the vaccine rollout due to a lack of supply from the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California is the 45th state in the U.S. when it comes to the number of vaccine doses administered per capita.

Joe Prado with the Fresno County Department of Public Health says the county requested 38,000 vaccines last week – but was only sent 8,000 from the state.

Fresno County is now slowing down operations at two of the three mass distribution sites locally, to make sure everyone who got their first dose will be able to get their second dose in the coming weeks.

“It is a little disheartening,” said Rick Lembo from the Sierra Pacific Orthopedic vaccine clinic in north Fresno. “Again, our goal is similar to the county. We wanted to vaccinate as many people as we could and those numbers of 30,000 people a week. This is a huge setback.”

Friday was the last day that Sierra Pacific Orthopedic vaccinated 1000 people with the Moderna vaccine. On Monday, the operation will be shut down temporarily to conserve doses.

Fresno County health officials are also pumping the brakes at the mass distribution site at the Fresno Fairgrounds. It will be closed off to the public next week as the county allocates the small number of remaining doses to the nursing homes and 3,000 agriculture workers.

“We will be moving out resources around,” said Prado. “Those are smaller numbers than 1500 people a day at the fairgrounds.”

Officials said that the Central High School site will run next week but could be at a limited capacity.

Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez said the county and city will work together during the pause on better distribution practices, such as using firefighters and EMTs to give out the shots at fire stations so the elderly do not have to wait in long lines.

“So that is part of us working with the county to ensure we have a smooth process once we do receive those additional vaccines,” said Chavez.

Local surgeon and UCSF Professor Christina Maser said vaccinations will be key to reduce hospitalizations and reach herd immunity.

“When we as a county can reach that 70% rate, that would be phenomenal,” said Maser. “The problem is with the vaccine supply a little low right now, it is difficult to estimate when we will get there.”

Fresno County is set to reassess the situation after next week to see if they can get the sites back up and running.

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