SALINAS – The Monterey County informational town hall on COVID-19 vaccinations Thursday evening provided a lot of information and answered many questions, but it got off to a rocky start.
The virtual town hall aimed to inform the public about the vaccine, how it is received and how it is being distributed. But it quickly met its limit of 500 participants on the Zoom video platform and people were left scrambling to find other avenues to attend or missed out altogether. Many were able to find it on YouTube. The snag was an indicator of the great number of people eager for more information about the vaccine and how and when they can acquire it.
“We don’t have enough vaccine to do mass vaccinations yet,” said Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno.
The county is still in Phase 1a of distribution with all 24,150 doses the county has received so far spoken for as direct health care and long-term care workers are still being inoculated. Until there is an adequate supply from the federal government, then the state, the county will not be able to have mass vaccination clinics.
The first phase allocation was based on the state’s estimation of how many health care workers there are in the county. Of those 22,000 people eligible in Phase 1a, tiers 1, 2, and 3, about 14,000 doses have been administered, with some health care workers already receiving their second dose, said Moreno.
Once the county has provided vaccines to the Phase 1a eligible parties in all three tiers, it can move to Phase 1b which now has two tiers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that vaccinations would be expanded to folks 65 years and older, and county officials have restructured the COVID-19 vaccine schedule to accommodate that change.
Tier one of Phase 1b remains for persons aged 75 years and older, along with frontline essential workers, but tier two includes persons aged 65-74 years old, critical infrastructure workers, incarcerated people and homeless persons.
Phase 1c will see persons aged 50 to 64 years vaccinated along with persons aged 16-49 years old with high-risk medical conditions and other essential workers.
Monterey County has received 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 14,400 of the Moderna vaccine. Both vaccines require two injections weeks apart.
Moreno advised if you are offered the vaccine, you should take it. Studies have shown its safety and effectiveness. Among groups vaccinated, very few actually got symptoms and the vaccine has proven to prevent COVID-19 illness. But researchers are still looking at if the vaccine prevents transmission and in the interim said it is important to still use health and safety protocols.
Many questions were asked during the presentation and those questions not answered during the town hall will be posted on the Monterey County COVID-19 web page by next week.
As of Thursday, there were 410 more confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Monterey County for a total of 34,482 cases. Hospitalizations remained at 207 and deaths at 248, with no increases in either reported. Recoveries increased by 49 for a total 14,037 of recovered cases.
Go to https://youtu.be/L2bVNJ87FAk to view the town hall on the Monterey County YouTube channel.
Contributed by local news sources