Having trouble registering for COVID-19 vaccine? Fresno County plans to set up 1-800 number

Fresno County is aiming to vaccinate half of its population by the end of July.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A shot in the arm has lifted many worries off 97-year-old Arturo Madrid's shoulders.

On Friday he waited in line at the Sierra Pacific drive-thru clinic in northeast Fresno to protect himself against the coronavirus.

There were no second thoughts for Madrid, just one idea in mind - survive this pandemic, like he did polio all those years ago.

"You know people are a little bit leery about taking it, about being sick afterwards, not me," he said. "I feel okay."

His daughter Gloria Mendoza accompanied him through the process.

She cares for him on a daily basis and has taken every precaution to protect her father.

"He took the shot like a pro," she said. "He was there and I was very, very proud of him. Very proud of him. When it is my time I will take it next."

Fresno County health officials say this week their goal was to vaccinate 3,000 people, but between all sites, they have surpassed that number.

They're now preparing to deliver even more doses next week as they welcome a new tier of people who are eligible for the shot.

Earlier this week Fresno County moved into the next phase of distribution, allowing residents 75 years and older to get the vaccine.
This has resulted in long wait times and even longer lines.

But Mendoza said they were in and out in less than an hour.

"They were pretty, really organized," she said. "I think it was maybe a 30- to 40-minute wait."

But some who come out for their vaccine don't have anyone to help them with the process.

That's why health officials are partnering up with community-based organizations for extra assistance.

"We are really trying to develop a 1-800 number where individuals can call to get assistance to actually registering online," said Joe Prado, Fresno County Health Division Manager.

Fresno County is aiming to vaccinate half of its population by the end of July.

"This is about building a distribution system, not just for the next thirty days, but for this entire period until July 31st," says Prado.

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Fresno County Health Division Manager Joe Prado says to date, the county has received 47,000 doses of the vaccine.

And all of the doses remaining in the county's ultra-cold freezer are already spoken for.

"That is going towards our clinic over at the Fresno Fair and supporting some of the other clinics as well as providers," says Prado.

Health officials are currently working on making the vaccination process smoother.

To clear up confusion, Prado says they will further define the groups and categories that will be eligible to get immunized.

For instance, law enforcement will be eligible to get the vaccine next month under the emergency services category, but that isn't explicitly defined on the vaccination timeline.

"What we need to do and what we will do, is add a definition to some of those categories of who falls under those categories so people have some more detail as to where they fall under," says Prado.

Health officials say there's a reason why they chose this method, which could change in the future.

"If somebody has an adverse reaction in the car and they are across the parking lot from you, are you really going to be able to see and monitor them?" says Vohra

Some backup is also on the way.

Prado estimates more than 100 healthcare providers have applied to distribute the vaccine.

Prado says many more doses are making their way to Fresno County next week.

Madrid now awaits his second dose.
And until then, he's urging everyone to do their part to protect our elders.

"I encourage people to be more careful between themselves," he said.

Clinica Sierra Vista in Fresno County will begin vaccinating residents 65 and older starting Monday. To get immunized at this and other locations in the county you must first register for an appointment online. People can register here.
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