Frustration grows as vaccine supply not meeting demand
El Dorado County residents and health officials alike are frustrated with the vaccination process.
The county has no available vaccines to distribute and is not taking appointment reservations.
“We simply don’t get the supply to meet the demand,” said Carla Hass, county communications director, during a Tuesday supervisors meeting. “The vaccine supply just isn’t there.”
Hass said she understands residents are frustrated, but that will most likely continue until supply meets demand.
El Dorado County receives 3.5% of the state’s vaccine allotment and the county makes up about 4% of the state’s population. Hass said these numbers are up to par in comparison with the county and state populations. These numbers point to a countrywide lack in supply of the vaccine.
El Dorado has a significantly larger senior population in comparison to other counties around the state. The county’s population is about 192,000 and 41,000 are seniors 65 years of age and above. Vaccines have been administered to 36% of the county’s seniors and 80% of appointments scheduled are seniors.
Due to the need of vaccinating the most vulnerable, health officials have asked for an increase in the county’s weekly allotment to 20,000 doses, about 15,000 above its original request, but that request has yet to be granted, or even acknowledged. The Board of Supervisors showed frustration during Tuesday’s meeting that the state doesn’t even respond to questions or requests.
On average, the county is receiving 2,800 doses per week.
As of Jan.1, there has been a total allocation of 7,800 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 8,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine. More vaccines are expected this week, including 1,400 doses of Moderna and 975 of the Pfizer brand, however these doses have already been spoken for, according to Hass. She said the county is also earmarking planned second doses for those who received the first vaccine.
County health clinics, including Safeway locations, are currently full and waiting for additional vaccine allocation from the state.
There are no walk-ins allowed, and appointments must be made for both locations. Hass said that other than cancellations, the middle of February looks to be about the time when reservations may become available again.
The county is in Tier 1 of Phase 1B which allows vaccinations for the education sector, childcare services, and emergency services, along with food and agricultural workers.
Those already eligible to receive the vaccine are seniors aged 65 and older (regardless of employment status) along with workers at specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental and oral health clinics, pharmacy staff and care providers. Those in Phase 1A Tiers 1-3 are still eligible for the vaccine.
While the vaccines have been limited, school district staff in both California and Nevada are beginning to receive vaccinations.
As of Tuesday, approximately 55% of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District staff have received their first doses, and 20% of staff are awaiting their first dose appointment.
Before the supply ran out, 16% were unable to schedule a first dose. About 17% of the staff have their second dose scheduled and 25% of those who received a first dose were unable to schedule an appointment for the second.
The district said that 6% do not want the vaccine.
People who meet the criteria for current tiers through their employment will be contacted by their employer.
Cheyanne Neuffer is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun.
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Local coronavirus cases grew by only eight on Tuesday, bringing the county’s new total to 3,979.