Historic winter storms in Texas have delayed COVID-19 vaccine shipments throughout the state and in Calaveras County.
The County Public Health Department and Dignity Health Mark Twain Medical Center did not receive any additional vaccine doses last week, according to administrators, leading to the postponement of some first dose appointments at the hospital this week.
County Health and Human Services Agency Interim Director Sam Leach, who oversees Public Health, stated during Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting that the county received only 100 doses in the second week of February and none last week, but he anticipates a “flood of vaccines” arriving in the coming week.
Leach said continual changes to the supply chain, both at the state and federal level, have caused confusion and frustration, though county residents have continued receiving vaccinations at a fairly steady rate. Last week, 2,300 vaccines were administered locally, largely due to pharmacies now offering the vaccine through a contract with the federal government.
“At the current rate, we’re about half a year away from all those who want the vaccine getting vaccinated,” Leach said. “I’m encouraged by that, looking at the math, and hopeful that it not only continues but speeds up a little bit.”
Public Health is continuing to contact and vaccinate select groups of people within Phase 1B of the state’s rollout plan.
All educators in the county who want the vaccine received their first dose as of Feb. 17, according to county Superintendent of Schools Scott Nanik. Leach said on Tuesday that, although supply is low, there is enough to provide second doses to all who require it this week.
Public Health has also launched small pilot clinics to vaccinate individuals 75 and older in areas where getting to the hospital might be a challenge. Leach said those clinics are advised by the state to target a “specific population” and to test out new software that may be utilized when vaccinations are more widely available. Upcoming clinics in West Point and Copperopolis are currently fully booked.
Leach encouraged residents to continue getting tested for COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. He said that Calaveras County could move into a less-restrictive COVID-19 monitoring tier as early as March 2, if positivity rates and case numbers continue trending downward.