While San Joaquin County health officials have administered nearly 17,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, supervisors on Tuesday were concerned that residents who weren’t yet eligible received doses over the weekend.
The county held a mass vaccination event for In-home health support employees at the Robert J. Cabral Center in Stockton last weekend, but Supervisor Kathy Miller said she and fellow supervisors were “bombarded” with emails and phone calls from neighbors and friends — some of them in their 40s — who were able to get vaccinated.
“There were concerns we were trying to (address) with our high-risk communities to try and build trust and get them to show up for these events,” Miller told county officials. “How on earth do you address that, given the fact that all over social media this weekend people were high-fiving one another ‘hey, I got vaccinated because I got a phone call from somebody who knew somebody that was volunteering at the county’s (mass vaccination) event?”
Miller asked county Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park and Greg Diederich, the county’s director of Health Care Services, how their departments plan to enforce a future “targeted” vaccination event so that those who are younger than 65 or are not health care workers are unable to attend.
County staff apparently announced last weekend’s event on www.sjgov.org, and Miller said residents older than 65 do not typically use the Internet or social media. Those who frequently visit the county’s website and use social media were the residents who attended last weekend’s vaccination event and were not eligible, she said, adding the county has most likely lost the trust of the hardest-hit communities it was trying to target.
“The general public — they don’t feel like this weekend was a big success,” Miller said. “They feel like all the things people had been telling them for months ... ‘Oh, you wait, when those vaccines become available, it’s all going to come down to who you know. Those are going to be the people who are going to get vaccines first.’ And that is exactly what they saw with our first (mass vaccination) event.”
Diederich said he understood Miller’s criticism, but he thought the clinic was successful in terms of being able to organize such an event.
“I think we need to move to a vetted registration system where we target (eligible) individuals, reach out to them, confirm their identities to give them an appointment and enforce it (so that) only people with appointments get vaccinated unless we have excess doses,” he said. “I think this weekend was a good learning exercise as to how we can do a mass vaccination event.”
Park was just as frustrated as supervisors that ineligible residents attended the event, she said, but she noted that her department released the vaccines for the sole purpose of administering it to in-home health workers. She added her department was looking into ways to make future events better.
“Unfortunately, word got out, and it wasn’t our intent to hold an event that had not been publicly advertised and shared with everyone,” Park said. “Moving forward, my plan is that I’d like to only release vaccine to mass vaccination events only when there’s a registration in place. I don’t want 75-year-olds, 80-year-olds, sitting in a car for hours, or standing or camping outside when there could be an appointment.”
Miller’s concerns followed Park’s presentation that noted the county had received 14,625 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, as well 19,400 doses of Moderna’s vaccine as of Jan. 15.
At that time, the county had administered a total of 10,405 Pfizer doses and 8,700 Monderna doses, Park said. Of those, 10,544 had been given to women and 6,260 had been given to men, she said, adding 105 doses were given to residents who did not specify their gender.
Currently, the county is trying to administer the vaccines to hospital staff, medical first responders, long-term care facility staff and residents, and all other health care workers as part of the California Department of Public Health’s Phase 1A of vaccination protocols.
Phase 1A is supposed to last until late February, and from then until late March, the vaccines are scheduled to be given to residents 65 and older and front-line essential workers, including those in education and childcare, emergency workers and food and agriculture employees.
After that, transportation and logistics employees will be given the vaccine, along with critical manufacturing employees, those in the industrial, commercial and shelter facilities, and the incarcerated and homeless populations as part of Phase 1b.
Everybody else will receive the vaccines after that phase, Park said.
“It’s very difficult to be precise on this and to make any commitments because the influx of vaccine per week from the state is so questionable, and we have no idea until the week before how many were going to get form the state,” she said. “It has become somewhat of a trickle lately. We’re not getting large amounts of vaccine, yet were being asked to vaccinate more and more groups.”
Park said the county has partnered with 35 entities through CalVax, an online registration site managed by the CDPH, to administer vaccines in the coming weeks. Those partners include Safeway pharmacies, CMC, county-run clinics, HR Support, WelBeHeath/Stockton PACE, SaveMart and University of the Pacific.
In addition, she said the county will look to set up mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics at senior and community centers, high schools and other facilities in neighborhoods where census track data shows high-populations of residents that do not have access to traditional health care services.
Adventist Health Lodi Memorial announced this week that it is offering vaccination appointments to community health care workers, first responders and residents 65 years and older.
There are a limited number of daily appointments being offered based on the supply of vaccine the hospital has on hand, as well as a limited number of dates and times remaining, hospital officials said.
Vaccinations will be administered on an appointment-only basis and are first-come, first-served, and those who want to get vaccinated are encouraged to check with the hospital regularly as additional appointments will be opened as more vaccine becomes available, officials said. They will not be available through walk-in visits to the hospital or outpatient locations.
To schedule an appointment, please visit www.adventisthealth. org/LodiMemorial or www.facebook. com/AHLodiMemorial.
The county plans to communicate directly with area residents who qualify using a pre-registration system called “Sign Up Genius” to ensure that those who meet the Phase 1b qualifications are those who actually receive the vaccine.