SALINAS — With the updating of state COVID-19 vaccine eligibility guidelines, the Monterey County Health Department has released a projected timeline for progressing through the rest of Phase 1b of California’s vaccination plan with an eye toward the mid-March goal of opening up vaccinations even more, but this week’s cold weather through much of the nation has delayed delivery of vaccine to Monterey County.
Vaccine supply remains extremely limited with Monterey County receiving 3,000 to 4,000 first doses of vaccine each week. The county last reported being allocated 65,650 doses of vaccine by the California Department of Public Health with 54,500 doses being received.
The county was expecting vaccines ordered last Thursday would be delivered by now but the cold weather gripping much of the United States has delayed delivery and could impact the pace of vaccinations being delivered in Monterey County.
“We don’t have a delivery date yet for this week,” said Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno at the COVID-19 media briefing on Wednesday. “Ordinarily it arrives Monday or Tuesday, that’s why Wednesday, Thursday and Friday clinics sometimes rely on those vaccines that are coming in.”
Moreno said organizations that have vaccine available in their inventory that was intended as first doses can use that vaccine because this week’s orders may not have arrived, which will disrupt vaccinating.
Those currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations are health care workers, long-term care residents and emergency medical personnel, as well as individuals 75 and older. This week eligibility opened up to people 65 to 74 years old at risk of exposure while working in food, agriculture, child care, education and emergency services, as well as individuals 65 to 74 years old who live in ZIP codes most impacted by the coronavirus.
Moreno said the strategy continues to prioritize Monterey County residents most likely to die of COVID-19 while beginning to protect additional essential workers.
Starting March 3, the eligible vaccination field grows to include people 65 to 74 years old who have not already been vaccinated, as well as other individuals at risk of exposure in food, agriculture, child care, education and emergency services.
Last week, the California Department of Public Health made the announcement that put March 15 as the day individuals with certain medical conditions that place them at high-risk for serious illness will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The list of eligible conditions is subject to change as additional scientific evidence is published and as the California Department of Public Health obtains and analyzes additional state-specific data.
With limited supplies of vaccine, providers will not have enough to immediately immunize all of their patients who are eligible for vaccination but as supplies become more available options for receiving the vaccine will include community-based clinics, health care provider offices, local hospitals and some pharmacies.
As new shipments of vaccine are received, the Monterey County Health Department will schedule community-based clinics on its vaccine appointment registration website at mcvaccinate.com.
Individuals are required to show proof of age and employment in an eligible industry sector. For those age-eligible and living in prioritized ZIP codes, proof of residence will be required.
The Health Department said that it is important to note that with new variants of the virus continuing to spread and with vaccine supplies remaining scarce, residents should continue to adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols such as staying at home except for essential activities, wearing a mask at all times when leaving home, limiting interactions with people outside your immediate household, keeping at least 6 feet apart, washing hands for at least 20 seconds and getting vaccinated when eligible and supplies allow.
Contributed by local news sources