State data: Tulare County demand for vaccine rises as Delta variant spreads

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The fall semester is just days away for Porterville College.

"I think we're prepared to bring people back, but the Delta variant is behaving much differently and the risk is there," Porterville College President Dr. Claudia Habib said.

To keep students and staff safe and classes in session, there is a vaccine mandate this year.

But Porterville College Pirates won't have any problems finding a place to get the shot.

On Thursday, the college hosted a pop-up vaccine clinic in the cafeteria, and there will be more to follow.

"I was never against getting it but now that it's a requirement, obviously I had to get on top of it today," Porterville College graduate and current Fresno State student Cynthia Carranza said.

As a Fresno State student, Carranza has to comply with the CSU system's vaccine requirement.

She would have gotten the shot earlier, but believes she built some immunity from her previous COVID infection.

She also had some questions about how her body would react to the vaccine.

"Like oh my gosh, how's this going to feel?" Carranza said. "Am I going to have an allergic reaction? Just stuff like that."

Action News collected data from the California Department of Public Health showing that vaccinations in Tulare County peaked in March, then slowed considerably in the late spring and early summer.

But within the last month, there's been a 35% increase in doses administered to residents.

"Even people who have gotten the first dose and have not completed the series are getting sick," Sierra View Medical Center Chief Nurse Executive Jeffery Hudson-Covolo said. "So I really advise this is the time to really make that decision -- consult your
healthcare provider, look at the data, look at the evidence that there is, and make that decision to get the vaccine."

Imperial Ambulance, Sierra View Medical Center and Tulare County Health and Human Services are ramping up their vaccination efforts in response to the rising demand.

The clinics don't require an appointment, and some also have incentives.

The city of Porterville will give $100 gift cards to anyone getting a vaccine at Thursday night's free country concert downtown.

"That's a great opportunity because these are local businesses," Imperial Ambulance Paramedic Supervisor Sean Roberts said. "They suffered during this pandemic. So you can get vaccinated, help stop the spread, help keep the pandemic under control,
and you can help one of our local businesses that has been struggling through this pandemic."
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