Amid a shortage of vaccine supply, Fresno County public health officials decided to press pause on two of its COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics for at least one week.
Fresno County Department of Public Health Division Manager Joe Prado said Friday that the county will temporarily close the sites at the Fresno Fairgrounds and Sierra Pacific Orthopedic Center next week in an effort to prioritize having enough vaccine supply for individuals who are scheduled to receive the second dose.
While Prado admitted that it is disheartening that the county is forced to press pause on these two sites, it does give the county and various vaccine providers time to reevaluate the system to make things smoother for the community.
“This pause is an opportunity to really improve all of our systems and make it a lot more user-friendly and more community accessible, so we’ll take that as a positive right now,” Prado said. “But we’ve got to really increase our allocation because the distribution system is there. So we really need to increase allocation so we can move forward aggressively toward our goal of getting 600,000 people vaccinated by July.”
To illustrate the vaccine shortage, Prado said Fresno County requested 38,000 doses from the state this past week, because that is the number that the county is capable of administering. However, Fresno County only received about 8,000 doses.
“Without any indication of us getting a sustainable increase allocation, we still from week-to-week will ask for additional doses,” Prado said. “There is no guarantee we will receive them, so our modelling has to include that we have to stay at this current dose allocation that varied from 8,000-10,000 doses a week.”
Fresno County plans to reopen the fairgrounds site the week of Feb. 1, and the county will evaluate – based on the dose allocations – whether or not the Sierra Pacific Orthopedic site can resume at the same time.
The United Health Centers site at the Central High School east campus will remain open next week.
Death toll passes grim milestone
As the vaccine rollout has its ups and downs, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a hard toll on Fresno County.
The county surpassed 1,000 total fatalities earlier in the week, coming in at 1,043 on Friday, interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra said.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Vohra said. “It could be numbing just to see this slow accrual of fatality numbers, but obviously it’s very heartbreaking that we now have passed this grim milestone of 1000 deaths here in our county. It just speaks to how many grieving families there are that have had to deal with so much.
“A lot of people that pass away, when we review their death certificates, they’ve had really prolonged hospitalizations. So it’s not just the fatality itself, it’s just the trauma that many families are enduring day-after-day and week-after-week as they have someone in the hospital who is very sick and cannot receive visitors. It’s just such a hard situation to have a relative or a loved one or a friend in the hospital right now. We’re just trying to protect people as best as we can.”