Tulare County cautiously begins next phase of vaccinations

The Sun-Gazette

Tulare County Health and Human Services says they will issue vaccines to Phase 1B residents, balance current supply with second doses of those in Phase 1A

TULARE COUNTY – Despite the overpromised and underdelivered amount of vaccine doses, Tulare County Public Health is charging forward on vaccinating the next tier of residents.

The Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced last week they would begin vaccinating those who qualify in the Phase1B Tier 1 category. People who are 65 and older as well as those who work in education like teachers, school staff; those who work in emergency services and first responders including public safety staff and social service field staff; and those who work in the food and agriculture industry, all qualify for the vaccine.

But HHSA made it abundantly clear in a press release that their supply is limited. They noted that while they are beginning to vaccinate those in Phase 1B, they are trying to balance their current supply with those who got their first dose in Phase 1A. HHSA is still hopeful that a steadier supply is on the way.

“Although vaccine supply is limited, Tulare County Public Health, in coordination with our area health care providers, will begin allocating doses to start vaccinating those qualified in Tier 1 of Phase 1B. Officials will provide more vaccination clinics and open more appointments to get vaccinated once supply and vaccine allocations to Tulare County increase,” the HHSA press release stated.

HHSA director, Tim Lutz said last month as more manufacturers come on line such as Johnson and Johnson and AstraZenaca there may be more vaccine to come. For now, according to chair of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Amy Shuklian, the county is receiving 3,000 vaccine doses a week.

However, as more vaccines become available there will be a need for more volunteers. Tulare County has launched two web pages where volunteers with medical experience can apply, and where volunteers without medical experience can apply.

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements to receive the COVID vaccine can visit the Tulare County COVID Vaccine web page at: covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ for more information.

Those receiving vaccines will be required to show proof of eligibility with either of the following: photo ID, employer ID badge, employer payment stub, or official letter from employer.

For anyone who has already received their first dose of the vaccine, HHSA is asking they do not call 2-1-1 to arrange for the second dose. Two weeks ago HHSA was forced to shut down their 2-1-1 COVID-19 information hotline because it was overwhelmed with callers. Instead Tulare County Public Health will contact them directly by phone or email to schedule your second-dose appointment.

If they do not have a scheduled appointment within a week of the date for your second dose, it is suggested they call 559-685-2260 to alert Tulare County Public health that they need to schedule their second-dose appointment. The second dose of vaccine must be the same vaccine manufacturer as the first dose and administered by the same vaccine provider they got their first does from.

For Pfizer, the second dose is to be given 21 days following the first dose. For Moderna, the second dose is to be given 28 days following the first dose. HHSA stated as well that It is extremely important that residents who are vaccinated for COVID-19 continue to maintain safety precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, including masking and social distancing, until vaccinations are widely available.

“It is imperative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Tulare County by practicing both social and physical distancing of six feet or more…Residents must always wear a face mask or covering while in environments where physical distancing is not possible and while in public settings,” the press release stated.

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