Editor’s note: Dr. William Miller, chief of staff at the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital, is writing weekly reports concerning the COVID-19 situation on the Mendocino Coast. We are pleased to be running his health column, with details on the medical fight against the pandemic. The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of The Mendocino Voice or of Adventist Health.
According to the California Health Department official overseeing the vaccination distribution for California, the State’s supply of COVID vaccines that it received initially from the feds has been mostly distributed. This supply was from the stock pile that Pfizer and Moderna had built up in the months awaiting FDA approval. Further supply will depend on production capability. California hopes to receive about 400,000 doses per week as production rolls forward. However, for the remaining 8 million Californians who qualify for vaccination in top tiers, that will take 20 weeks or five months. As reported previously, the current strategy is to achieve enough vaccination of the general public by September so that when we enter next winter there won’t be the same surge of cases that we are seeing around the state this winter.
Meanwhile, the number of doses received by the Mendocino health department is much lower than expected. “Supplies are very limited this week, and even more so next week,” said Bekki Emery of the health department. “We continue to push at the State to provide additional vaccines and are waiting to hear. As soon as we hear back we will share with our community.” Because of the limited supply, the focus of current mass vaccination clinics is to get booster shots into those people who have already received the first dose. In addition, the health department is also focusing on In Home Support Services (IHSS) workers and completing vaccination of school teachers and education staff. Having said that, Mendocino County still is a leader within the state for getting out what we have promptly. As of this week, we have vaccinated 11,000 people, up another 1,000 from last week.
Local medical offices have been overwhelmed by phone calls from Costal residents asking about the vaccine. Since we are only getting vaccine doses in sporadic and limited amounts, there isn’t much information to be shared and that just adds to people’s frustrations.
The best way to find out information as to when and where you can get vaccinated is by following the County’s website https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations. This web page will have regularly updated links that allow people to get on the schedule to receive vaccines as they become available. Also, you can sign up for vaccine alerts through the website set up by supervisor Ted Williams: www.vaccinatemendo.com . Of course, it is recognized that this assumes that people have access to the internet, which not everyone does.
Adventist Health has been working with the two private primary care practices on the Mendocino Coast, Drs. Jeff Berenson and Jennifer Stewart in Mendocino and Dr. Sandy Brown in Ft. Bragg, to assist their patients in getting the vaccine. Meanwhile, AHMC Medical Offices (formerly North Coast Family Health Center), Ft. Bragg Rural Health Center and Mendocino Coast Clinic are all working on keeping track of their patients who qualify for vaccination under the current tier and reaching out to them to schedule vaccinations when the doses are available. We are required to continue to prioritize vaccine administration following the California State Health Department tier system. Currently, we are in Phase 1B tier 1, which prioritizes people 75 years of age and older.
I understand that this is a frustrating time for many and I wish I could provide more up beat information, but this is the situation as I understand it. The best I can advise is to remain patient and continue all the same protective steps as before; masking, hand washing and avoiding large gatherings.
Mendocino County does not stop at the Navarro River. There is the whole District 5 area which is served by Redwood Coast Medical Services, yet I see absolutely no reference to when/how those of us will be served. Also, the state and national guidelines call for those 65 and older, not 75. Mendocino County has made the decision to use the old tiers. It may make sense for more populated areas to vaccinate only those in that age group, but it means that in smaller areas, like the South Coast, once they have vaccinated all of the 75+ group, they can’t then offer vaccinations to 65+, because the county won’t allow it. That means all of us down here in our own local community are forced to play by rules set up for places like Ukiah and Fort Bragg.
If the priority is to vaccinated those over 75 in Phase 1B, why is the county vaccinating in home workers and teachers/ Seniors should get vaccinated first.
It would be nice to know the source of 11,000 figure.
The Mendocino County page has 8000 people being vaccinated as of this week.