Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Surplus COVID-19 Doses Journey to the Bay Area as Local Interest Wanes

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 6:26 PM

When the San Francisco Public Health Department put out a desperate plea for any surplus COVID-19 vaccines last week, Humboldt County — which has been having trouble filing available appointments — answered the call.

According to a San Francisco Chronicle story, the Bay Area was in dire straits after receiving fewer doses than a month earlier, just as eligibility opened up to those 16 and older, and didn’t have enough to supply to cover already scheduled appointments.

After a San Francisco public health worker sent out the word of the situation, they received a response from Humboldt, which started the clock ticking on how to move the ultra temperature-sensitive Pfizer vaccines — some 1,000 doses in all — 300 miles to the south in time.

The complex operation ultimately involved a member of Humboldt’s public health team member driving the precious load to the Kneeland Airport to meet a volunteer private pilot, who picked up the cargo on April 16. After safely arriving at its destination, the vials were ferried by couriers to a San Francisco General clinic and into the arms of residents living in neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic first thing the next morning, the Chronicle reports.

“This vaccine is the most logistically challenging vaccine of all time,” Humboldt County health officer Ian Hoffman told the Chronicle. “But we were determined to get them out one way or the other. The bottom line is we’re super happy to help out another county. Our team was elated to see the way this went down.”

Meanwhile, even as Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 28 new COVID-19 cases today — the largest single-day tally since Feb. 11 — local interest in receiving the vaccine is waning and officials are raising concerns about how those numbers have "dropped significantly."

For those interested, the Arcata Community Center will hold walk-in vaccination clinics on a first come, first served basis from 6 to 7 p.m. today through Sunday but vaccinations will be given by appointment on all those days before 6 p.m. and, as of this morning, scores of appointment times were available for the clinics on the state's website.

Those wanting a vaccine can also also register online through, and Public Health reports there are "many" appointments available.

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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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