San Benito County Public Health Services conducted its first drive-thru Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic, bringing in 100 of the county’s residents who could be vulnerable to the virus if exposed.
Francesca Williams was one of 100 pre-registered San Benito County residents ages 90 or older on Jan. 29 to receive a dose of the vaccine at no cost.
The 90-year-old county resident got a telephone call late Thursday evening and the person on the line told her she was scheduled for an appointment the following morning. It was her second attempt to get the vaccination after she had previously gone in to get one but at the time she tested positive for coronavirus during the screening process.
“The doctor said we should do it, do it,” she said. “Do what you’re told and get it done, get it over with.”
Public Information Officer David Westrick said the drive-thru was very orderly and well managed by all parties involved. There were two screening areas to check people for any symptoms and those who were administered a shot had to park at a “wait station” for 30 minutes to make sure there’s no adverse reactions.
Westrick mentioned that they’ve been planning the drive-thru clinic for several months.
“Our vaccination team has been on it, dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed all the ‘t’s, but really it’s been about supply for us and supply all over the region and state,” he said.
Westrick said that they received about 600 doses that were divided among different providers within the community including Lucky’s Pharmacy and with Dr. Martin M. Bress. But the county public health was able to set aside enough for Friday’s round of vaccinations.
County Public Health Services contacted older residents who registered using the Covid-19 Vaccine Portal. They specifically reached out to those who don’t have a provider that could administer vaccinations.
More than 1,700 residents above the age of 75 completed the online Covid-19 vaccine interest form. A pharmacy or physician who currently provides Covid-19 vaccinations will contact those who qualify to schedule an appointment.
The portal serves as a tool to inform individuals in San Benito County about when and where they may obtain a vaccine as the phases, tiers and prioritization progresses.
Westrick said Public Health Services will continue to vaccinate those who are 75 years or older and that don’t have a pharmacy or physician that provides Covid-19 vaccinations. He encourages residents to go on the Covid-19 Vaccine Portal and sign up for a vaccine.
There’s been about 7,000 people signed up through the portal and Westrick said that priority is still based on age, especially for the most elderly residents that are 75 or older.
“If you have someone that is up there and needs to get a vaccine, please don’t hesitate to get them on there,” he said.
Westrick added that the drive-thru vaccination clinic is still not open for the general public and the county is currently attending to individuals currently in Tier 1 of Phase 1B, which prioritizes people ages 75 years or older.
He’s hoping this is the first of several drive-thru clinics and that they’ll be able to vaccinate more residents at additional locations as more vaccine supply becomes available.
“I wish we could say tomorrow we’re going to have another one but the truth of the matter is we just don’t have the vaccine supply at this point,” he said.
One of the biggest concerns for Westrick heading into the vaccination clinic was the rain but he said they lucked out with another beautiful California sunny day in January. However, the biggest issue to take care of is getting more supply for the demand.
“We want to make sure that we have the adequate supply that we have to do this,” he said. “It’s sort of difficult to see the end product because we don’t have the supply. But we have the supply today so that’s great.”
Anyone seeking assistance with the interest form or those without internet access can call 831-636- 4113. San Benito County Covid-19 information can be found at www.sbccovid19.us.