Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Supply and Demand: COVID-19 Vaccination Frustrations Boil with Too Few Doses and Another Curveball from the State

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 7:07 AM

click to enlarge Dale Stocky celebrates his 75th birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccination he'd newly become eligible for at a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic Jan. 23 at Pacific Union Elementary School. - FILE
  • File
  • Dale Stocky celebrates his 75th birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccination he'd newly become eligible for at a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic Jan. 23 at Pacific Union Elementary School.
After nearly a year of living with COVID-19, health officials point to the prospect of mass vaccination as the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the beacon leading us to normalcy.

But hope and hard reality continue to collide in Humboldt County, where there are simply nowhere near enough vaccine doses to meet even the measured steps of California’s phased rollout plan, which also keeps shifting, much to the frustration of seemingly everyone.

Addressing the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 26, Health Officer Ian Hoffman lent voice to some of the frustrations, saying the state had pivoted from pushing counties to get as many providers as possible — from hospitals and health clinics to pharmacies and individual physician’s offices — approved to administer the vaccine to pushing for just a handful of approved providers due to highly specific handling and data management instructions. The state also shifted, Hoffman noted, from including residents aged 75 and older in its current vaccine distribution phase to saying the vaccine should be made available to everyone over the age of 65, which would have more than doubled the already overwhelmed vaccine line in Humboldt County. But most frustratingly, Hoffman said, is that vaccine distributions are still arriving at a virtual trickle, despite repeated promises that supplies would ramp up.

Shortly after Hoffman’s comments, as the board was still meeting, the state announced it was again overhauling its vaccine delivery framework, revamping its eligibility guidelines, creating a statewide registration and notification system, and instituting sweeping changes that would put it in more direct control of vaccine distribution and administration across all 58 counties.

“We have learned that to accelerate pace we need to dial up the scale of our efforts to ensure vaccine supply goes into arms as quickly as it arrives in the state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press release, adding that “equity” would continue to be the distribution effort’s “North Star.”

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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