Fresno County's educators, farmworkers must wait longer for the COVID-19 vaccine

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Getting an appointment to get vaccinated in Fresno County was hard enough with spots filling up in minutes.

But now, health officials say they need to pump the brakes on taking more people in to get their shots because of a lack of supply to go around.

"This pause is an opportunity to really improve all of our systems and make it a lot more user-friendly and more community accessible. So, we'll take that as a positive for right now," Fresno County Division ManagerJoe Prado.

RELATED: Vaccine supply short, biggest Fresno County vaccination centers on pause

Right now, the county is saving the supply it has on hand to make sure it has booster shots available for everyone who has already gotten their first dose.

The decision means anyone still waiting for that first shot will have to wait a little longer, including essential workers in lower tiers.

Jane Banks is the director of health services at the Fresno Unified School District.

She says despite educators being put on pause, they are still hopeful.

"We are positive in waiting our turn, but I know our educators are really ready for their turn to get here, so we will be waiting patiently," she says.

United Farm Workers says it is also trying to be patient, as well as prepared, by collaborating with employers to get additional dry ice and getting mobile vaccine clinics near the worksite.

Prado says Fresno County asked for 38,000 doses this week and received 8,000.

The lack of supply makes it hard to plan and forces them to allocate doses instead of getting more people inoculated.

"Without any indication of us getting a sustainable increase in allocation -- we still from week to week will ask for additional doses, but there's no guarantee we will receive them, so our modeling has to include that we have to stay at this current dose allocation that goes from 8,000 to 10,000 doses a week," says Prado.

Meanwhile, health officials at Welbe medical health center say their phone was ringing off the hook to schedule vaccines all week.

They are booked out for the next three weeks for those in the first tier.
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