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.
As much as one tries to provide consistent and accurate messaging throughout the past year of this pandemic, it remains a challenge because of sudden policy changes and lots of false starts and sudden stops at all levels from the feds on down. This was true with PPE, it was true with COVID testing and it has remained true with the vaccine availability. Unfortunately, this also contributes to “COVID burnout” that we are all experiencing.
Nationally, clinics have complained that it is difficult to schedule vaccinations when we often don’t know how many doses we will get until shortly before hand. On Monday of this week, we were told to expect to not receive any doses for our vaccination clinic. However, the next day, due in large part to the diligent work of Dr. Bessant Parker our Chief Medical Officer and to the willingness of Adventist Health (AH) to be supportive, we were able to locate all 740 doses needed for second Moderna booster shots, being shared with us by other AH facilities. Yet another reminder of the benefit of being affiliated with a larger hospital system.
Last week was a particularly great week for vaccination on the Coast. Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) gave 700 injections, AH gave 820 at CV Star and the County gave another 500, for a total of 1,540 doses. The majority of these were second dose shots. This brings the grand total of people in Mendocino County who have received at least one dose to just under 30,000 of which about 5,000 people are living on the Coast.
Having said that, we may see the number of doses coming to Mendocino through both the AH system and the health department be lower over the next few weeks. Thus, we have been asked by the health department to focus on second dose shots right now and avoid giving first doses again until we know that our supply is more assured.
The reason for this relative reduction is the need for California to redirect doses towards counties that have larger populations considered to be at highest risk. The CDC reported recently that of the 48 states in the continental US, California ranks near the bottom at 44th in terms of equitably distributing the vaccine to vulnerable populations based on ethnicity, health literacy, poverty and homelessness which have all been identified as factors for highest risk. This is important for the State because of concerns about a recent upswing in new cases in New York and Florida. We need to get those at highest risk vaccinated quickly to avoid another surge here in California.
Even with these considerations, the future looks promising. Despite recent media hype around AstraZeneca, it looks to be a very good vaccine that will likely be approved by the FDA soon. In addition to bringing a fourth vaccine online in the US; production and distribution of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have ramped up considerably. President Biden promised to deliver 100 million vaccines to Americans by his 100th day in office and the US surpassed that goal on March 19th; 41 days early. Last Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom promised that every adult Californian who wants a vaccine will be able to schedule one by end of April and receive it by end of May. If this comes true, then it is well in advance of earlier projections that it might not be until August or September when all in California who want the vaccine would receive it.
Returning to the local picture, MCC will be giving 25 doses of the Johnson & Johnson, one-time dose to homeless folks on our Coast through its Street Medicine Program and will give another 30 next week. MCC also plans to give 900 second doses next week on April 2nd and 3rd.
AH will be giving the 740 second doses, mentioned previously, at CV Star to those who received their first dose on February 21st at AHMC hospital or on February 25th at CV Star on Thursday, March 25th between 9:00 and 12:45. Please, arrive at the time that you got your first dose with us; if your dose was not during that time span then simply arrive at 12:30. Remember to bring your yellow form completed and your CDC vaccination card.