COVID variants appear to be dominant in Fresno County, and with vaccine demand slowing, it could lead to possible surges.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A surge in the summer.
That's what Fresno County public health officials are worried about as they see a sharp increase in COVID-19 variants, and fewer people wanting to get vaccinated.
The county's health officer, Dr. Rais Vohra, says the county has a little over 300 confirmed variant cases, which is a dramatic increase from the 50 the department reported last week.
The majority of them seem to be California variants, but they also have cases with strains from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.
"These are variants of concern that are known to be more contagious, perhaps even more severe in their ability to cause human disease than the normal or conventional strain of coronavirus. All of those people that are getting sick from COVID probably have the same thought going in their head, which is, 'I wish I had gotten the vaccine'," says Vohra.
But that's the other problem.
The county is seeing less of a demand for the vaccines, and next week's order is for only 3,000 doses.
Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado says hesitancy to get the shot is one reason.
Another is that many communities still don't know where to get a dose, or that it's even available.
"We're going to be working with our community, really clearing that up and doing some more mobile events," he says.
He also says the county plans to team up with events to get more doses in the arms of residents.
"We've got things coming up with the Grizzlies, we're out at the zoo in education. There's some more events coming up in the rural areas. And so we're going to be supporting them with their weekends and popping up vaccine clinics here as well," Prado says.
Vohra says the concern is shifting as public health officials are now worried about the younger population not getting vaccinated.
"The risk group has now shifted younger. Now I'm worried about the 40-year-old person who may be pre-diabetic or hypertensive and just doesn't understand that they're at risk," Vohra says.
The department says they're working on creative incentives in hopes more people will make an appointment.
On Thursday, vaccine doses were administered to residents at the Kingsburg Fire Department.
Fire officials are now working with the Fresno County Public Health department in hopes of getting more people to sign up by partnering with local businesses to offer an incentive.
"Our city manager was able to assist Fresno County in identifying some businesses here within the city of Kingsburg so that we could get $20 gift cards for people receiving the vaccine," says Kingsburg fire chief Dan Perkins.
Adds Prado: "It's going to be tailored for each rural city. We're talking gift cards to grocery stores, gift cards to Starbucks..."
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