Yolo County firefighters get coronavirus shots

Winters Fire Chief, Brad Lopez received the COVID-19 vaccine last Wednesday. Nurses administered vaccines to firefighters across Yolo County. Courtesy photo

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Firefighters throughout Yolo County received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week and acute-care hospital staff will began receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Friday. Staff and residents of skilled-nursing facilities have also received their initial doses in the last few weeks. But the slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide and unanswered questions about who will be receiving it when, where and how has local residents frustrated. Particularly concerned are older Yolo County residents who don’t live in longterm-care facilities (which have been prioritized for vaccines) but are at high risk for severe disease. Some have told sister publication the Davis Enterprise they are in the dark not only about when they’ll get the vaccine but also about how they will be notified it’s their turn. Their primary-care physicians don’t have any answers and they don’t have the benefit of workplace assistance either. Said one Davis resident: “Not all 75-plus individuals have computers and many don’t know how to use a computer to access websites. Many elderly do not know the computer lingo. Many live alone. Will the vaccinations be done like in Florida where people will have to wait in line for eight hours only to be told that there is no more vaccine?” Individuals ages 75 and up are in the first tier of Phase 1B, a tier that also includes workers in education, child care and food and agriculture. But before Yolo County can get to anyone in that phase, it must finish up all the populations in Phase 1A — a phase with three tiers, only the first of which has received vaccinations thus far. Acute-care hospital workers and residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities have received their vaccinations and EMTs, paramedics and firefighters were being vaccinated this week. The final group in tier 1 — dialysis centers — are next, and the county will be moving into Phase 1A, tier two, next week, according to county spokeswoman Jenny Tan. That group includes in-home support services workers, public health staff, primary care clinics and more. The third tier in Phase 1A will include dental and oral health workers, lab workers, pharmacy staff and others. The state announced last Thursday that in order to maximize vaccine administration and reduce the potential for waste, health departments should immediately administer COVID-19 vaccines to all individuals in Phase 1A regardless of tier. The problem, however, is a lack of doses. Yolo County had only received 4,550 vaccine doses as of last Wednesday night and only 100 doses in the previous week-and-a-half. That does not include second doses (given three weeks after the initial dose for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks after the initial dose for the Moderna vaccine). Those doses have been received, Tan said, but are not counted in the 4,550 total. Meanwhile, just 2,606 first doses had been administered through last Wednesday. At issue, Tan said, is the time involved to administer those shots. “There is a ton of work that goes into vaccinating people at this scale — the logistics, the planning, working with sites, working with staff and residents, training nurses, tracking the doses and vials, supplies and security and all the paperwork that’s involved,” Tan explained. “It is a ton of work.” Last week alone, she said, the county hosted more than 25 vaccine clinics that finished up vaccinations in senior-care facilities and continued vaccinations of ambulance and emergency services workers, firefighters and others. “It is a huge undertaking,” said Tan. “We are working as fast and quickly as we can.” “The county is well aware of the questions and concerns from residents,” Tan added. “Everyone wants to know where they are in the phases and tiers and how they will get their vaccine.” She promised that when she knows more, the public will be informed promptly. As for older residents not living in senior-care facilities, Tan said the county is considering drive-through vaccine clinics, regular walk-in clinics and possible home visits for those who are immobile. As planning continues for vaccinating populations in later tiers, the county this week stayed on track with the current tier, vaccinating firefighters all over the county. At three different locations, firefighters from multiple agencies ranging from UC Davis to Woodland to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation received the first of two Moderna vaccine doses. “We are extremely hopeful that this vaccine will have a profound positive impact on the well-being of our personnel, and we are thankful to be able to offer this opportunity to all firefighter personnel in Yolo County who would like to be vaccinated,” said Woodland Fire Chief Eric Zan. “This protection goes beyond our firefighters. It will help us to protect their families, their peers and the communities we serve every day.” The county has created a vaccine information page on its COVID-19 website that will be updated regularly with phase and tier information as well as information about the vaccines themselves and doses administered so far. Visit www.yolocounty.org/coronavirus-vaccine to learn more. For vaccine questions, call Yolo County’s COVID-19 public line at 833-965-6268.

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