STOCKTON — About 80,000 residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations as of Thursday, health officials said, accounting for 10% of the total population in San Joaquin County.
“But some of those account for people who don’t actually live or work here, so it’s hard to get an accurate number on that,” Dr. Maggie Park, the county’s Public Health Officer, said during a mass vaccination event at the Progressive Community Church in Stockton.
Hundreds of county residents and employees arrived at the church Thursday morning for vaccinations, including those older than 65 and those who work in sectors such as education, child care, law enforcement, and food and agriculture.
While media was not allowed inside on Thursday, Park said those eligible for vaccines entered the church, filled out paperwork and were taken one-by-one to a station where a nurse administered the vaccine.
After receiving their dose, they were then taken to a larger area of the church for 15 minutes of observation, Park said.
There were two lines outside the church, one for those with appointments and those receiving a second dose, and one for those without one. Stockton resident Patricia Ingram, 70, waited in the non-appointment line and was excited to be finally getting a shot.
“It’s wonderful. I am elated,” she said. “Thank God. I heard about it yesterday. I tried to go through Kaiser, but they said I had to be 75, and I am only 70. I am number 20 (in line), I got lucky.”
Stockton resident Sue Chambers waited in the same line for an hour to get her vaccine, and was relieved after receiving her first dose.
“It was so easy,” she said. “Mentally, it was nothing. I didn’t want to get a shot. Since my children said I should do this, (I decided to do it) so I can come out of the house.”
According to San Joaquin County Public Health Services’ COVID-19 dashboard, 82,271 doses of vaccine have been administered. Of those, 7,790 have been administered in Lodi. Of those, 12.06% of Lodians have received their first dose, while 3.65% have received their second dose, according to Public Health.
Teachers and educators in kindergarten through third grade will be eligible for vaccines beginning Friday, Park said, and they will be able to receive their doses over the next several weeks through a partnership with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
It is unknown how many doses the state will deliver to the county for the next round of vaccinations, she said.
“I know the demand is for more vaccine and I think the state is doing its best to allocate it fairly to the counties,” Park said. “We’ve been pushing to get more vaccine here in the Central Valley, based on the fact that we’ve got to move into doing food and agriculture, and we have a lot of agricultural workers and a lot people in the food sector.”
Because of the high number of agricultural workers and food industry employees in Lodi, Park said her agency is planning a mass vaccination event in the north part of the county.
“We think we’ve done a pretty good job getting to some parts of Stockton, so now we need to move,” she said. “We’re working on an event in Lodi for farm and ag. It won’t be open to the public per se, but at least it will be in that area to reach some of our agricultural workers, and we will be looking at other sites around the county.”
There is another mass vaccination event planned in Tracy, specifically for child care workers, Park said.
Sites for current mass vaccinations are chosen by looking at census tract maps where the county’s most disadvantaged and high-risk communities live, then overlapping that map with where residents 65 and older live, and where those with more risk-based medical conditions live, Park said.
Then, residents are invited based on a vaccine interest form located at www.sjcphs.org.
As of Thursday, county Public Health reported 65,705 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,021 deaths since the pandemic began.
There were 2,901 active cases Thursday, while 61,783 people are considered recovered, according to health officials.
In Lodi’s 95240 ZIP Code, there have been 4,408 cases and 120 deaths. There have been 1,849 cases and 22 deaths in the 95242 ZIP Code.
There is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Park said, adding the vaccines being administered are safe and effective.
“It really makes me happy that there is so much demand,” she said. “We really have to meet that demand, and we will over time as more vaccine comes. I do believe that as long we can keep getting people going to vaccine events and they’re eligible and they’re invited, we will reach a certain degree of immunity that gives us more comfort.”