Health care workers and long-term care facilities receiving vaccine first, in accordance with California vaccine phases
Yolo County began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer on Dec. 18, 2020. According to Public Information Officer Jenny Tan, the county has also received “roughly 1500 of the Moderna vaccines and are expecting to get more.”
“The Pfizer vaccine is two shots 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine is two shots 28 days apart,” Tan said. “So the delay between the first and second shot is a little bit longer for the Moderna one; in addition, the Moderna vaccine doesn’t have to be stored in an ultra-cold freezer, while the Pfizer vaccine has to be, so there’s a bit of a storage difference as well.”
As of Jan. 5, the vaccine is going to Tier 1 of Phase 1A of California’s vaccine phases, which includes Woodland Memorial Hospital and Sutter Davis Hospital, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service providers and dialysis centers, according to Tan.
“This week we’re finishing up skilled nursing facilities, and we’re continuing with paramedics, emergency services, fire agencies,” Tan said. “We’re starting dialysis centers maybe later this week. We’re going to start doing the second doses for a lot of the locations in Tier 1, because a lot of them got the Pfizer vaccine, and it’ll be 21 days since they received the first dose, so they’ll be up next. Tier 2 could start as early as next week.”
Because of the logistical issues involved in administering the vaccines, it could be a while before the general public begins receiving shots, Tan said.
“I think it’ll be at least a couple months before we finish Phase 1 in its entirety,” Tan said. “Maybe by spring or summer we’ll get to the general public. It definitely depends on a lot of things—there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of logistics that goes into it, and we have to give them doses twice. There’s a lot of work that’s gone on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t realize.”
Yolo County District 4 Supervisor Jim Provenza added that fluctuating vaccine supplies received by the county increase the complexity of providing vaccines.
“The main problem is that we are not getting enough vaccines,” Provenza said via email. “The number of vaccines we do receive is also unpredictable. Last week we received 1,000. This week, we only received 100. Hopefully, this is a problem our governor and new president will address.”
In addition, in many locations, the county must provide not only the vaccines, but also staff who are trained to administer the shots, Tan said.
“Right now, the county is handling most if not all of the vaccines,” Tan said. “For instance, at the hospitals, we didn’t administer it, since the hospitals have their own staff, but we provided them with the vaccine. At the skilled nursing facilities and the dialysis centers, we will be giving it to them and also administering it to staff, because they don’t have the trained staff to do that.”
The original plan was to have pharmacies administer the vaccine, Provenza said.
“The state had asked that pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens administer the vaccines,” Provenza said via email. “However, because of a delay in the pharmacy program, Yolo County used its own supply of vaccines for both staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers. We are close to completing vaccination [of] all of the staff and residents of these facilities. Almost all residents accepted the vaccines. Almost half of the staff refused.”
Tan also stated that small changes in the tier categories further complicates the effort.
“The state keeps slightly changing who’s in what tier or who’s in what phase, so that adds a burden at the county level to have to make up for those things or to add more clinics or more to the schedule because the state has added something,” Tan said. “There’s a lot of anxiety for people about where they are in the tier or where they are in the phase, but once we get to a certain tier, we will absolutely let people know where to go get it, if they’re in that tier.”
Despite the good news of the vaccine rollout, the stay-at-home orders in Yolo County and the Greater Sacramento Area will likely continue, according to Tan.
“We’ll be under the stay at home order for at least a little bit, at least based on our region’s ICU hospital capacity,” Tan said. “We’ve been under the 15% mark, and we are still seeing cases come in from Christmas. We haven’t seen cases come in yet from New Years; it usually takes 1-2 weeks before we see all those cases come in, so I think we’ll be under it for a while.”
Written by: Rachel Shey — firstname.lastname@example.org