The growing promise of coronavirus vaccines in Sonoma County collided with the reality of vaccine shortages and extreme weather elsewhere on Monday, shifting expected dose deliveries.
The supply problems were so severe that one of the county’s largest healthcare providers, Sutter Health, decided to pause scheduling all appointments for the first doses and planned to reschedule the second dose appointments for some patients.
Friday’s announcement that the county would immediately open immunizations to residents 65 and older, as well as employees of food production, restaurants, and grocery stores – the largest single expansion of vaccine eligibility here, with an estimated Out of 63,000 more eligible people, it seemed like a watershed moment. .
For Kevin Cronin and his staff at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, the wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19 continues.
“Everyone who works for me now wants to get vaccinated,” Cronin said Monday. “But it is very difficult to know how to handle this. Like, I don’t know personally. They say call your primary care provider. So you call them and they say, ‘We don’t know.’
In fact, vaccination appointments are still extremely difficult to come by. And the county’s growing eligibility comes at a particularly difficult time in the vaccination effort that began in December.
The county closed several vaccination clinics Monday for at least a day and medical providers rationed doses due to the disruption of national distribution of vaccine shipments caused by last week’s freezing weather and power outages elsewhere. of the country, especially Texas.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Dr. Urmila Shende, Sonoma County COVID-19 Vaccine Director. “Especially since we have developed all these partnerships with different clinics and we are ready to increase capacity. But what can you do with mother nature? “
The county had an affiliated clinic at Sonoma Valley High School closed Sunday, and two more at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall (both were through Sonoma Valley Health Partners) and Rancho Cotate High School (through the County Office of Education). Sonoma) closed on Monday as partners awaited a week-late shipment of 5,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Those doses again failed to arrive Monday, prompting county officials to scrap an additional clinic scheduled for Tuesday at Grace Pavilion at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, one run by the Sonoma County Medical Association. Another clinic on Tuesday, on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus in Petaluma, will function as planned, but will administer only the 84 doses that Petaluma Health Center already had on hand; will cancel another 252 appointments.
Sonoma Valley Health Partners had planned to host another clinic in the Veterans Lounge on Tuesday, but decided not to schedule appointments due to vaccine shortages.
County health officials said they received kits containing syringes, bottles and other vaccination paraphernalia on Monday. Shende took it as a good sign, because those shipments generally precede additional doses of vaccine by 24 hours.
Unlike Sutter Health, Providence St. Joseph, operator of Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley and Healdsburg hospitals, has enough doses on hand to meet its appointment schedule for the week, said the Northern California Pharmacy Director, Saad Sultan. Kaiser Permanente also said there are no delays in immunization appointments.
West County Health Centers is taking a similar approach to Sutter’s. Chief Executive Jason Cunningham said the nonprofit is missing three boxes of vaccine doses this week. They have been administering about 250 first doses a day at their clinics at Analy High School and Guerneville School, and were scheduled to add 250 second doses to that this week.
“Instead, we are only vaccinating the 250-second doses and withholding new doses until we are assured of a sufficient supply,” Cunningham said.
Mendocino County health officials said Monday they were also opening up vaccination eligibility for residents 65 and older.
Increased demand for vaccines is putting further pressure on the overwhelming collection of inoculation dating portals available to Sonoma County residents. On Monday, none of the linked sites on SoCoEmergency.org showed vacant slots, except for the OptumServe clinic in Rohnert Park. The first available appointment there was on March 18.
Despite Monday’s hardships, many welcomed the county’s decision on Friday to extend vaccination eligibility to residents ages 65 to 69. He finally brought the county into line with the statewide age criteria, after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on January 13 that everyone in the state was old. 65 years or older was immediately eligible for immunization against the coronavirus. But Sonoma County, which already faced a vaccine dose shortage last month, initially set the bar locally at 75. Two weeks ago, the county expanded eligibility to people 70 and older.
Cronin, the owner of Rosso Pizzeria, was well aware of the study published by UC San Francisco medical researchers in January and concluded that among the 25 jobs statewide with at least 100 pandemic deaths, the most dangerous was that of a cook. Bakers and chefs were ranked No. 4 and No. 11, respectively, reflecting the high risk associated with confined spaces and hectic activity in most restaurant kitchens.
Dean Molsberry, owner of Molsberry’s Market in the Larkfield-Wikiup neighborhood, has 72 employees who mostly want to be vaccinated upon realizing the risk related to the virus they face on a daily basis.
“If you’re a verifier, you’re dealing with customers all day, every customer that goes through the registry,” Molsberry said. “It’s about cash, because people still want to pay cash. People are now bringing bags. They will buy in their bags, so they are touching everything that you are touching. “
Molsberry said the owners of Cal-Mart, in Calistoga, arranged for a mobile vaccination team to go to market to administer the doses. But that’s Napa County. Molsberry has not been able to gather information on whether that could work in Sonoma County.
“Even if we had to send lines of people (to Napa County), I would have no problem doing it,” he said.
Once the vaccine supply catches up with demands, for both seniors and food workers, knowing how to use a computer to register will continue to be one of the biggest barriers to getting vaccinated against a scourge that has now killed. more than 500,000 Americans.
“I’m not a super computer savvy guy,” Cronin said. “I am a business owner, I know how to get around, but I am not like some of these young people. But the guys in my kitchen just don’t know how to do it. “
You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or [email protected] On Twitter @Skinny_Post.