County lays out mass COVID-19 vaccination plan

Peninsula Premier Admin

SALINAS — As vaccinating top-priority health care workers is nearing its end, Monterey County has created plans for large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations to cover most of the rest of the local population.

On Tuesday, county health and other officials presented community vaccination plans to the Board of Supervisors, promising to offer doses of the vaccine to as many as 20,000 people a week at peak capacity. The “multi-modal” strategy would include mass vaccination sites capable of administering up to 3,000 vaccine doses per day and perhaps more, along with other efforts backed by hospitals and clinics, home health care providers, pharmacies, and large local employers such as agriculture and hospitality.

At that rate, the county could administer about 520,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine over a six-month period. County health officials have indicated achieving herd immunity would require administering about 514,000 doses, covering 80% of the county population aged 16 and over or about 257,000 people.

But the key question is when the county might receive enough vaccination to be able to ramp up to that level of vaccination. Currently, the county has been allocated enough vaccine to administer up to 4,000 doses a week. Since Dec. 8, more than 21,000 doses have been administered out of about 29,850 received for a 70% delivery rate.

According to the presentation from County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno and County Emergency Operations Center Logistics Section Chief Mike Derr, the county will require “strong partnerships” between government, the health care system, labor and employer groups, and community and faith-based organizations to ramp up to large-scale vaccinations.

County officials have identified 32 potential sites for drive-through mass vaccination clinics in collaboration with public and private stakeholders to be set up as vaccine is available, and have also set up staffing, security and traffic control plans. The sites, all but 10 already under contract, range from the Monterey Peninsula, North County, and Salinas to South County and Big Sur. County officials did not announce their specific locations.

“We are ready to rock and roll once we are called upon,” Derr said.

In response, the county board unanimously backed sending a letter to state officials arguing the county is ready for large-scale vaccinations and asking for more vaccine while also requesting an accounting of where the state’s vaccine supply has gone thus far.

The letter will also request more state consideration for covering migrant farmworkers who will be returning to the county for the spring season.

“The message to the community is we’re ready and we want to distribute the vaccine on an equitable basis when we get it,” Supervisor Chris Lopez said.

Also Tuesday, Grower Shipper Association executive director Chris Valadez and Clinica de Salud executive director Dr. Max Cuevas presented a public-private plan to vaccinate up to 72,000 farmworkers including migrants at a “handful” of drive-through sites.

And County Superintendent of Schools Deneen Guss laid out plans to use 91 school sites as vaccination locations for educational workers from K-12 to higher education and licensed child care site workers, and urged the county supervisors to prioritize the education and child care workforce as much as any other in the next tier of essential workers eligible for the vaccine.

Contributed by local news sources

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