BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — There have been many questions surrounding the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Tuesday morning Kern County Public Health Services Department broke down a timeline of who and when people will be vaccinated as they’re nearly done with the first phase. 23ABC’s Bayne Froney explains how more vaccines will be distributed to the community.
Tier 1 of Phase 1A of the distribution plan included health workers and skilled nursing facilities and now that it’s almost complete, Kern Public Health said within a few weeks the distribution will be moving on to a broader group of people.
“As of today, we have received over 26,000 doses of vaccine,” explained Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine. “All of our hospitals and their employees now have been vaccinated. We have accomplished that first primary objective because we want to make sure that they are healthy in case we get sick and we need to be cared for.”
The vaccination plan consists of different phases. In the first phase, the county focused on vaccinating first responders such as EMTs, skilled nursing facilities, residents in long-term care and dialysis centers.
In the next phase, Tier 2, which public health hopes to reach by the end of the week, those being vaccinated will be public health field staff, home health care workers, and those working in primary care clinics.
After that Tier 3 will include workers in specialty clinics, laboratory workers, along with oral health and dental workers will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
After Tier 3, public health will move on to Phase 1B and 1C, where they will vaccinate those 75 and older along with frontline essential workers. The hope is that after this phase the vaccine can be distributed to the general public.
“After phase 1C, the state has yet to further define, but it would open up into a larger group,” said Constantine.
The vaccine has also been distributed directly from the state to Adventist Health, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and Dignity Health. As of December 28th, Region 5, which includes Kern County has distributed 16,804 vaccines.
“The quicker we can get this vaccine available to those that really want it is really our goal,” said Kern County Public Health Public Relations Officer Michelle Corson.
Corson said that instead of administering the vaccines, they are storing some as well as distributing the vaccines to local clinics and hospitals that don’t get direct distributions from the state.
These include places like Omni, Clinica Sierra Vista, as well as local hospitals in places like Ridgecrest and Tehachapi. Public Health is also able to store vaccines in a large freezer where the vaccines can last up to 6 months.
According to Corson, public health is working with the community to plan and create vaccine pods so that once the vaccine can be distributed more widely the county will be ready.
“We plan to do what we do with many of our vaccines, like in flu season, and open these community pods we call them, but for opportunities for the community and our residents to come and get vaccinated at places like the fairgrounds,” said Corson.
Even with the vaccine, public health wants to remind everyone it’s still important to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and wash their hands to help slow the spread of COVID-19.