Dana Ullman is Mendo Voice’s health reporter with support from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Feel free to reach out to her with your health-related questions, tips and comments: [email protected]
COVELO, 4/30/21 — The Mendocino Co. Public Health Department held its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Round Valley High School in Covelo last week with more planned throughout the spring.
As the day began Angle Slater, a registered nurse with OptumServe and a Mendocino County COVID vaccine clinic coordinator, stood under a tent at the dose filling station looking at a clipboard — the team had brought 102 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but only eleven people had made appointments. Volunteers took to the street beckoning drivers with a sign reading “Covid Vaccine Clinic.” Even “JAES,” the clinic’s security guard, took part, twirling the sign like a baton.
Slater recently tallied 73 volunteers countywide traveling to work at vaccination clinics across Mendocino.
“As a community, I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “Compared to other counties, we’ve done very well. We haven’t had to call in the state for support. The hope is coming back. Grandparents can hug their grandkids again.”
On April 15, Californians 16 or older were deemed eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and the county is working in tandem with the Round Valley Health Center, which has administered Moderna vaccines supplied by Indian Health Service (IHS) to the Covelo community since December last year. Currently, only Pfizer has been approved for ages 16 and up. Moderna is seeking an emergency approval to vaccinate teens with trials underway to vaccinate younger ages in the future.
After some persuading, Annette Tuttle of Covelo received her first dose followed by hugs from her son and daughter.
“I had heard things on the news, about blood clots and such,” said Tuttle, who was initially hesitant about getting the vaccine. “But my kids were the motivator. What if something happens to you?”
By midday, cars streamed into the parking lot and people checked-in to receive a vaccine. Among them were Niquita Whitehurst and Lourdes Downey of Covelo. Both women said they have had several people close to them contract the virus and were motivated to get the vaccine because they work with children.
“It’s been so scary,” Whitehurst said, who is the mother of an immunocompromised child. “I feel relieved to socialize again. We’re in the house twenty four hours a day, now we can go out more.”
Vaccine hesitation is a challenge for the team. According to Mendocino’s COVID vaccine statistics, which do not include numbers from IHS, Veterans Affairs (VA), or pharmacies, COVID vaccines have been administered to only 2% of Covelo’s population.
“The community doesn’t want to get the vaccine,” Whitehurst said. “Our elders say it’s ‘the mark of the beast.’ No one from our work is getting the vaccine. We were the only ones. [One person] was like ‘good luck.’”
“It’s cultural and hard to break through,” says Slater speaking about vaccination hesitation in general. “We just keep showing up again and again with testing.”
By the end of the day in Covelo, only one dose remained.
- The next vaccination clinic in Covelo will be May 12th. For more information of upcoming clinics across Mendocino County go to: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations/vaccination-clinics
- Appointments can be made via the California Department of Public Health’s My Turn system: https://myturn.ca.gov
If you have questions or need help with an appointment contact the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 (M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa-Su 8AM-5PM).
For questions regarding the vaccination process, please call 707-472-2759.Mendocino County Public Health Department