Local vaccine supplies increase as vaccine eligibility expands to people 16 and older

Local vaccine supplies increase as vaccine eligibility expands to people 16 and older

Photo Credits: Mario Rodriguez / Aggie

Yolo County official explains that the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccines has not severely impacted the vaccine schedule

In a press release published on March 31, Yolo County announced that those aged 50 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on April 1 and those 16 and over starting on April 15. 

At the time of publication, the press release explained that “supply of the COVID-19 vaccine is still extremely limited and the newly eligible population is large. As a result, not all eligible residents will be able to immediately schedule an appointment or get vaccinated.”

Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan said that since its publication, however, supply has increased.

“We have seen a slight increase in the vaccine doses we’ve gotten from the state of California, so we definitely want people to know that we do have doses available, that if they are eligible that they should absolutely get the vaccine,” Tan said.

Even with the number of vaccinations increasing, some parts of the country have experienced a rise in cases, particularly among young adults who have not been vaccinated yet. Tan stated that in Yolo County, however, cases have been “steady.”

From March 30 to April 5, the test positivity rate was 0.6% in Yolo County, according to the Yolo County COVID-19 dashboard. However, Tan explained that the metrics for transitioning to the yellow tier have yet to be satisfied. 

“We have noticed that in terms of moving tiers, we’re still in the orange tier—we haven’t quite hit the yellow tier metrics yet,” Tan said. “So our numbers have not gotten better by a whole lot over the last couple of weeks, even though I think they’re pretty good for what they are.”

Davis City Councilmember Dan Carson explained via email some factors that have contributed to the steady case numbers in Davis and Yolo County.

“I think the strong local commitment by a large share of our populace in partnership with UC Davis to our Healthy Davis Together has made a huge difference in reducing the spread of coronavirus and holding down the human toll of sickness and death,” Carson said via email.

Carson further explained that the large-scale local testing operations have reduced the number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 who are unaware of being infected. 

“Our regular and quick testing of persons for the virus on and off campus allowed us to identify more than 1,000 persons who were asymptomatic carriers,” Carson said via email. “That allowed us to work effectively to prevent thousands more from becoming infected. This is a victory for classic public health strategies and innovative new methods to adapt them in this deadly pandemic.”

Tan emphasized that despite the rise in vaccinations, it is still important for people to not let their guard down and continue adhering to social distancing guidelines—particularly due to new variants. 

“We have seen that there have been some more cases in California and in our region that have a variant,” Tan said. “So it’s still important that people get tested, people get the vaccine. Even though I think with the warmer weather, also with the vaccines being out, that people sort of have this feeling that things have really turned the corner. Even though it seems like it’s better, the variants really hone in on the fact that people still can get sick, that people are still getting severe symptoms and that there are people that are still dying. So we definitely want people to take this seriously and to get vaccinated when they are eligible.”

Since the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine on April 13, Yolo County placed all J&J doses on hold and will be waiting on further guidance from the California Department of Public Health. 

Any J&J vaccine appointments scheduled during the pause will be replaced by Pfizer or Moderna, as Yolo County has some of those doses leftover. Tan explained that the hold will not have a major impact on the vaccine schedule and that people’s “health and safety are [of] utmost concern.” 

Tan said that should an individual experience “severe side effects or are not feeling well from the vaccine, they should contact their medical provider.” 

Despite the hold, Tan explained the other vaccines are still safe. 

“The vaccines are still considered safe and effective—the Pfizer and Moderna ones, and so even though there is this pause on Johnson & Johnson, we do want people to feel that they should still take the vaccines when they’re eligible. They can go on the My Turn website, where they can sign up for different types of appointments and clinics within the area.”

Ultimately, the pandemic will be overcome, but there is progress to be made, according to Carson. 

“Obviously this has been a challenging and heartrending time because of the loss of life and the terrible impacts of the pandemic on renters and small businesses and workers who are underemployed or lost their jobs altogether,” Carson said via email. “We will bounce back, but we still have work to do to see our community through this crisis.”
Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org