Vaccine supply short, biggest Fresno County vaccination centers on pause

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County is putting its biggest vaccination centers on hold because of a supply shortage.

The county will take a week to focus on long-term care centers and skilled nursing facilities, and will shift its priorities when it restarts the big vaccination centers in February.

Getting through the line to get vaccinated at Central High School went pretty smoothly Friday.

"It was an organized experience," said Terry Scambray. "I was impressed by it."

His wife, Linda Scambray, says she was concerned about a vaccine shortage because the Fresno County website never had available appointments and lines at another mass vaccination site didn't seem promising.

"We lined up at about 7:30 a.m. and we gave up at about 9 because it was 5 blocks or longer," she said.

But she and her husband are among the lucky thousands who got the first dose in Fresno County. In their case, United Health Centers got them in and out in about 90 minutes.

The line at Sierra Pacific in northeast Fresno was moving at a similar pace.

But medical providers told us it was challenging trying to plan even a week in advance because supply lines from Moderna and Pfizer to the federal government to the state to the county have never been smooth.

"Our supply for us here is OK," said Rick Lembo, medical director at Sierra Pacific. "But I don't think that's reflective of what the challenges are by any stretch of the imagination. We don't know what we'll get for next week yet because the county doesn't know."

Fresno County division manager Joe Prado says he asked for 38,000 doses this week and the county got 8,000 - about 21%. The vaccine is in relatively short supply and the county wants to make sure there's no disruption for people who have already gotten the first vaccination.

But delivery has not been smooth.

The state's dashboard shows California has only administered 37% of the doses it received.

The county started fast out of the gate, but to date have only administered about 36% of its allocation, 30,500 out of 85,900, partly because they started saving vaccines to be able to give second doses later on.

"Without any indication of us getting a sustainable increase in allocation -- we still from week to week will ask for addition 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 8000 to 10000 doses a week," said Fresno County division manager Joe Prado.

The timing of a second dose is critical, but the CDC updated its website Thursday to discuss worst-case-scenarios for people who can't get a second shot on time.

As a last resort, they say you can delay the second dose for up to six weeks without having to restart.

And as another last resort, you can switch brands -- from Pfizer to Moderna or vice versa.

But the CDC emphasizes this is only for "exceptional situations." They're not endorsing the idea of delaying or switching the second dose.

Fresno County hospital administrators tell Action News they currently have no guarantees from the county for when they'll get any new vaccines, but believe they have enough to finish second doses.

And Lembo from Sierra Pacific (also known as SPOC) says everyone who received the first vaccination there is scheduled to receive the second.

"There will be no disruption," he said. "SPOC has the doses."

They're hoping to get people back in line as soon as the supply allows, which could come as soon as early February for second doses.

Prado says the county will only give out first doses at the two biggest vaccination centers again when they realize their supply is more than expected.
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