By Debra Moore
Plumas County has administered at least one dose of vaccine to 8,500 Plumas County residents. While Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff isn’t sure exactly what percentage of eligible residents that represents, he is confident that the county is exceeding the state’s percentages. “Overall we are doing an incredible job,” he said.
According to the latest census data, Plumas County has an estimated 18,800 residents with 17.4 percent of those being under the age of 18. So, if 3,271 youth are ineligible for the vaccine at this time, it would mean that roughly 55 percent of eligible county residents have had at least one dose of vaccine.
During an interview March 26, Woodruff said that it’s difficult to ascertain exact numbers because of the myriad ways residents can obtain a vaccine and the reporting systems in place. In addition to the vaccines that Public Health administers at its mass vaccine clinics, the healthcare districts are also administering vaccines, and some residents have obtained their vaccine outside of the county.
Plumas County is using the MyTurn system, which is currently allowing appointments for those 65-plus; 18 to 64 with underlying health issues; and several sectors.
However, this past week Plumas County was able to offer the vaccine to anyone 18 and older on a walk-in basis during two clinics because the supply exceeded the scheduled appointments. Woodruff is confident that will occur again next week, as the county continues to receive approximately 1,000 to 1,200 doses per week. Details about next week’s vaccination opportunities will be shared as they become available.
While Plumas County works its way through the tiers, neighboring counties have moved past them. Sierra and Lassen counties began administering doses to anyone 18 and older during the past couple weeks. Neither of these entities has transitioned fully to the MyTurn system, which is required by March 31.
Soon these counties will be line with the state. As of April 1, anyone over 50 is eligible to receive the vaccine, and as of April 15, anyone 16 and older will be able to receive a dose. (Ages 16 and 17 are eligible, but only if the Pfizer vaccine is available. At this time it is the only vaccine approved for those under 18.)
In Sierra County, its small population allowed its public health department to move quickly to vaccinate residents. Vickie Clark, director of Social Services and Public Health, said that her staff called potential recipients when the supply began outpacing the demand. When asked if Sierra County would vaccinate Plumas residents, she said not at this time, but if the state were to implement a sponsored system — similar to what it does with testing — then that would be a possibility.
Barbara Longo, Lassen County Health and Social Services director, said that Lassen hopes to reach population immunity by the end of April. She credits the presence of the prison and the army depot for allowing public health to move quickly through the sectors because “we have this partnership all working to vaccinate people.” She added, “The jails are covered; the army base is covered.”
Lassen opened up the vaccine availability to anyone 18-plus and vaccinated 1,070 in a drive-thru clinic last week. “It got a little dicey about 10 a.m.,” she said, when it was reported there was a 2.2-mile backup. “But traffic resolved in an hour.”
Lassen County avoided using the MyTurn system for as long as it possibly could. “Our system was working,” she said.
Plumas County has contemplated offering drive-thru clinics, but needs a space large enough to accommodate such an endeavor, because, unlike with flu clinics, those vaccinated must remain on site for at least 15 minutes.