The County of Mendocino received a large allotment of vaccine this week and are holding no less than six vaccination clinics.
“We received 1,400 first doses and 400 second doses of the Moderna vaccine. Additionally, we received 300 first doses and 675 second doses of Pfizer vaccine. With that, we will be able to provide our first series of second vaccines and schedule six vaccination events- two on the coast and four in Ukiah,” notes Bekkie Emery, Manager of the Department Operations Center.
“Our goal is that we will use close to every dose of vaccine we receive by the end of each week,” notes County CEO Carmel Angelo.
Though general public vaccinations aren’t expected to commence until in the late Spring or early Summer, staff is increasing the number of weekly clinics and vaccinating as many people as possible.
According to Adrienne Thompson, co-manager of the county’s vaccine clinics, three vaccination clinics are scheduled at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds this week from 9:00-4:00 pm. The first, scheduled for Wednesday, January 13 is for fire fighters, criminal justice personnel, law enforcement and crisis counselors, along with the provision of the second doses of Pfizer vaccine for those who received their first dose on December 22nd.
The second clinic is scheduled for Thursday, January 14th. This clinic is scheduled for In-Home Supportive Service workers, food service workers and protective service workers, and again for those needing their second Pfizer dose from the December 22nd clinic.
“We are also assisting the City of Ukiah with a special clinic that will vaccinate a minimum of 250 teachers. We’ve been having additional vaccine in the vials, so to prepare for that, we also have people on a waiting list,” says Thompson. The event will take place at the Ukiah Conference Center beginning at 1:00 pm and is an appointment-only clinic.
“Many thanks to City of Ukiah and our multiple partners for helping to vaccinate Ukiah Unified personnel, says Angelo. The county will hold another vaccination clinic at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds on Friday, January 15th. Along with education and childcare providers, agricultural workers will be vaccinated.
“The three clinics at the Fairgrounds will require verification of meeting the required ‘tier’ criteria,” says Emery. “People wishing to be vaccinated must present two sources of verification- a driver’s license or employee ID and a pay stub verifying your employment status.”
In the upcoming weeks, Thompson estimates 1,600 to 1,800 individuals will be vaccinated weekly.
With support from Adventist Health staff, two vaccination clinics for fire and EMS personnel will be held in Fort Bragg on Thursday and Friday from 3:00-8:00.
“Firefighters represent the largest unpaid public safety workforce in the county. It’s imperative that we keep them within the response area to the communities they serve,” notes 5th District Supervisor Ted Williams, who was instrumental in organizing these special clinics.
“We are creating protocols for several of our rural and community clinics so they can soon begin vaccinating on site,” notes Emery.
The California Department of Public Health’s “phase” system designates when people are eligible for vaccination, in an effort to provide citizens a fair, equitable vaccine distribution framework- prioritizing the first vaccinations for those at highest risk for exposure to COVID-19, and from there, vaccinating those at lesser risk for exposure.
“The phase system works on the principle of saving the most lives and prioritizing the most vulnerable such as the elderly, while simultaneously protecting our highest risk healthcare workers, who protect the whole community,” says the county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren.
Phase One, expected to continue into Spring, 2021 breaks down into three sub-phases- Phase 1a, 1b and 1c. Within those sub-phases are additional “tiers.” Each phase and each tier identify a subset of the population who become eligible for vaccination once a subsequent tier’s vaccinations are completed.
Tier 1 contains but is not limited to high-risk healthcare personnel such as emergency room workers. Per the CDC’s distribution guidelines, pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS have responsibility for vaccinating skilled nursing personnel, long-term-care staff and their residents and patients.
“Thee national pharmacy contractors should be completed vaccinating this group by sometime next week. The county is close to completing nearly all of the first vaccines for the Phase 1a / Tiers 1, 2 and 3 groups,” says Dr. Coren.
From there, the focus moves toward a larger demographic.
“We are at the beginning of Phase 1b, Tier 1. This includes EMS personnel, firefighters and workers in education, food and agriculture, as well as people over 75 years of age,” says Dr. Coren. People over 75 should contact their healthcare provider or clinic to make vaccination arrangements.
To help the public identify their vaccination tier and the progress of the county’s vaccination efforts, an infographic is now available on the county website’s COVID-19 page.
“When you’re dealing with a tightly rationed resource, it is sometimes challenging to decide who gets vaccinated first,” says Dr. Coren. To address these issues, the county convened the Mendocino Ethics Covid Ad Hoc Committee (MECA).
“The Ad Hoc’s role is to advise our Department Operations Center and health officers on ethical matters involving distribution of COVID vaccines, in alignment with guidelines from the FDA, the California Department of Public Health, and our county’s ethics order,” explains Dr. Coren. “That order stipulates that vaccines will be distributed in a sequence designed to maximize benefits and minimize harm, promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency.”
“As an example, we recently advanced criminal justice and jail personnel into a higher tier because of the recent outbreak at the jail,” says Dr. Coren.
The members of the group were selected by Dr. Coren. “Dr. Ashley Porteous serves as the bioethics chair on her county’s Ethics Committee and brings a wealth of perspective to the group,” notes Dr. Coren. The volunteer committee members are Jackeline Orozco, representing the Latino community and Kat Willits, representing Native Americans and the Round Valley Tribal Community. Becky Walker employed with the Fort Bragg Unified School District will represent schools and educators. Dr. William Miller represents hospitals and the Mendocino Coast. Dr. Mark Apfel represents clinics and the Anderson Valley community. Dr. Ron Epstein is serving as an alternate member.
“Our county may have been perceived as starting up slowly. But in a few short weeks, we developed a safe, equitable and efficient vaccine model that we are rapidly scaling up. Based on the amount and timeliness of our vaccine allotments, we believe we’ll be able to vaccinate everyone who chooses to be vaccinated within the next nine months,” Dr. Coren concludes.
For more information about Mendocino County’s COVID-19 response, available resources and other information, please visit the county's COVID-19 page, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The county’s Call Center is staffed from 8:30-5:00 PM Monday through Friday at (707) 472-2759.
(County Press Release, Post Date: 01/11/2021 9:00 PM)