Once the Pfizer-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine gains approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Fresno County will receive 7,800 doses in the first wave of the vaccine rollout.
Fresno County Department of Public Health official Joe Prado said Friday that the county expects to receive the initial vaccine doses shortly after Dec. 15.
The doses – as Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed Thursday – will be given to health care workers first and foremost. Prado said Fresno County has over 58,000 health care workers, so this first phase would only cover a small percentage of those individuals.
“That is really going to be focusing on the high-risk frontline health care workers in the hospital settings,” Prado said.
Such workers include doctors, nurses and all support staff.
Fresno County Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the county expects to receive another allocation of vaccine doses in late December, which could be as much as 40,000 doses.
Since the Pfizer vaccine requires individuals to receive two doses, health officials said the county will distribute all 7,800 doses immediately, and the state will supply the second doses for those individuals in later distributions. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is administered 21 days after the first dose.
While the vaccines are on the horizon, Fresno County hospitals are at capacity, Central California Emergency Medical Services director Dan Lynch said.
As of Dec. 3 – the latest update by the state – Fresno County reported 340 hospitalized patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest amount of patients for the county throughout the pandemic. The previous peak was 313 on July 30.
Of the total number of hospitalized patients, 66 of them are in the ICU, which is just shy of the peak of 67 in the summer.
Lynch said the county has 150 ICU beds in total, and only 10 (6.7%) of them are available.
Newsom announced his second shelter-in-place order on Thursday, which splits the state up into five regions and is enacted when a region falls below 15% ICU capacity available.
Fresno County is part of the San Joaquin Valley region, and the state reported Thursday evening that the area has 19.7% capacity remaining.
Health officials fear that the region will dip below the 15% capacity threshold very soon, which would enact the shelter-in-place order throughout the Valley.
“The way things are going, I won’t be surprised if it’s in the next couple of days,” Vohra said.