Sacramento County’s public health department is ramping up its vaccine operations for frontline workers at Cal Expo, but it could be March before they’ll be able to invite members of the public there.
The drive-through site has been up and running for two weeks. It’s the county’s only current vaccination site, but it’s exclusively for health care workers in Phase 1a of the state’s immunization plan.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye says they expect to finish vaccinating members of Phase 1a by the end of January. In February they plan to invite Phase 1b groups such as law enforcement and other public safety personnel to Cal Expo.
Agricultural workers are also in Phase 1b, but Kasirye says the county will likely send mobile teams to reach those groups rather than try to get them to the drive-through site.
As for people age 65 and older, who are technically eligible for vaccination now under state guidelines, Kasirye says they should ask their doctor about the possibility of being vaccinated. She says the county is also setting up sites at federally qualified health centers at Sacramento State University and at Cal Northstate University in Elk Grove.
“That’s really where we’re going to be sending our 65 and older, because right now for Cal Expo we’re really going to focus more on being able to get through the professional groups,” she said.
County staff say they’re receiving hundreds of emails every day from residents asking where they can get the vaccine. As of now, there are no county-sponsored sites where people who are not frontline workers can receive a shot.
Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Sutter Health and UC Davis Medical Center are all contacting patients about vaccinations as doses are available.
The county recently launched a sign-up form for adults age 65 and older to fill out. Anyone who signs up will be notified about future Sacramento County-hosed immunization clinics.
Kasirye said it’s possible they’ll be able to invite members of the public to Cal Expo in March, depending on vaccine supply.
Currently, the Expo site is able to vaccinate 250 people per day. But health workers say with the recent addition of more National Guard medics they’ll soon be able to immunize at least 500 people per day.
At the site, people check in from their vehicle, receive the shot while seated in their vehicle, and then drive to a parking spot where they are monitored for 15 minutes in case of potential side effects.
“We’re really ready to dispense as much as possible,” said Jamie White, a program manager with the county health department. “As soon as we get more vaccine, we’re ready to expand.”
The county has received 81,925 doses from the federal government so far, and allocated 80,394 of those doses to local medical providers. County staff have administered 3,157 doses themselves, and have 4,374 doses on hand, which they expect to administer at Cal Expo next week.
Faisal Habib, a 25-year-old nursing student who works with children on the autism spectrum, said he was thrilled to be vaccinated.
“I’m feeling pretty great right now, just happy to have gotten the vaccine, help the community stay protected and myself,” he said.
The county says as more doses are available, they’re working with community leaders in ZIP codes where infection and death rates have been highest to figure out where to put walk-up sites in those areas. They did not have a ballpark on when those sites would be in operation.
“We are aware that for some of the disadvantaged communities some of them do not have transportation so they would not be able to come here,” she said.
She mentioned schools will be an ideal location for vaccination sites because they have large auditoriums and large parking lots.
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