The Big News: COVID-19 Vaccines for Age 65 Plus. The bigger question: “Where and when can I get mine?”
Last updated 1/27/2021 at 1:18pm
The Borrego Sun has diligently been trying to track down answers to “where” and “when,” while also making the powers that be understand that Borrego Springs residents live in a rural desert community. An isolated village, which, not only has a limited supply of water, but also a failing health care safety net. So, who’s in charge? And where do Borrego residents go for help?
When asked, San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond stated, “I’m glad to see the State allow those 65 and over to receive the vaccine. We must get the COVID-19 vaccine to San Diegans! To me, this is the most important task in San Diego County and we need to make it simple for everyone to get the vaccine.”
His office is referring people to the County website: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/vaccines/vax-schedule-appointment.html.
Supervisor Desmond’s staff, along with other county officials contacted by the Sun, advised that this is currently the best source for vaccination distribution, and is being updated to accommodate new distribution directives.
Changing the state’s adopted Center for Disease Control (CDC) phased approach, limiting vaccinations to special healthcare provider and responder populations, to opening it up to everyone 65 and older, has created chaos, as providers, receiving vaccine supplies from the federal government, attempt to adjust. Providers include San Diego County government, which along with other targeted populations, has responsibility for distributing supplies of vaccine to unincorporated communities, like Borrego Springs. To accomplish this, the county plans to involve local partners, both private and public to handle the actual vaccinations.
“Due to limited vaccine supply, the County of San Diego cannot provide COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals 65 years of age and older at this time. Planning efforts are under way to vaccinate this population of Phase 1B next. Healthcare providers may administer vaccinations to this population, if they have doses available.** Jan.16, 2021
The roll out of the vaccine has been anything but organized. To say, “it’s fluid,” is an understatement. Nothing new to see. The process mirrors the sadly, divided and unheeded public responses to safety measures required to reduce the spread and exposure to the virus that currently exists.
Other healthcare providers that may receive the vaccine from the federal government and can inoculate, include private providers such as large hospital medical groups, like Kaiser Permanente, UC Medical, Sharp Memorial, Scripps, and Palomar. Pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens also receive and dispense the vaccinations. Markets with pharmacies, and large entertainment complexes, and schools are all potentially in the mix.
Any, or all of these will be offering inoculations by registration and appointment, depending on their supply of the vaccines, after they complete their first round of inoculating health care workers, first responders, and institutions such as nursing homes, housing vulnerable populations. Some will only be providing inoculations for members, others on a first come first serve basis.
Sarah Sweeney, MA, Communications Officer, County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency advised the Sun, that CalFire will also be giving inoculations.
“CalFire plans to do vaccinations in Borrego Springs and will publicize when they will be there. Current information on who is currently eligible, and how to make an appointment can be found here: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/vaccines/COVID-19-VaxEvents.html.”
Following up on a concern about plans for vaccinations in Borrego, the Sun also contacted Dan Anderson, chairman of the Borrego Community Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees, regarding vaccine access at the Borrego Springs clinic. Mark Connelly, BCHF chief operations officer, forwarded this:
“Borrego Health has released the first announcement of the arrival and distribution of COVID vaccine in Borrego Springs. In short, the first 100 doses arrived this week (Jan. 10). Our healthcare workers are currently being vaccinated. Borrego Health has set up a waiting list for people age 65 and older to receive any doses that remain from the first batch, which will be few if any, and doses received in upcoming shipments which may start to arrive in two to three weeks.”
“Due to limited quantities, please contact the Borrego Medical Clinic at 760-767-5051 to be added to a wait list for the COVID vaccine as additional shipments are expected in the near future.”
Connelly noted that persons calling the Borrego Springs clinic about the waiting list should be aware: “You can be put on the waiting list, but you cannot be vaccinated now.
“Expect that it may be two or more weeks before another shipment of vaccine arrives. The County controls these shipments to Borrego Health, and as you probably know has been receiving much smaller amounts of vaccine from the manufacturers than is currently needed.”
And, “the Clinic is dealing with many demands placed upon it by the pandemic, so please understand that if you do call.”
Bruce Kelley, chairman of the Borrego Springs Coronavirus Community Task Force and Resource Center, urged people to sign up on the wait list.
“If you are 65 years-of-age and older, we recommend you call the Clinic to be put on the waiting list. That will put you in line to be notified that you can be vaccinated when more doses of vaccine arrive in town. That may also help Borrego Health make its cases to the County that it should ship more vaccine to the Clinic sooner than it would otherwise.”
A local source, the Borrego Springs Coronavirus Community Task Force, funded by the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, offers advice and answers to questions about the virus on its website: accesshealthborrego.org/coronavirus.
Kelley offered this about the current situation.
“The Task Force will continue to promote use of masks and social distancing for at least two weeks after the second vaccination - full immunity cannot be expected before that. The Task Force will continue to post active cases in Borrego Springs, promote testing dates and work with the County to make contact tracing effective in Borrego Springs. We will be distributing via print and electronic media messaging in English and Spanish, via Promotoras in the Hispanic population, and via our network of organizations that make our information available to the full population.”
Finally, while questions remain about the amount of vaccine the federal government has available, and, when the county will make doses and vaccinations available in Borrego Springs, either through the clinic or CalFire, the Borrego Sun will continue to seek answers and report back.
In the meantime, the spread of the deadly disease is serious. The number of cases is rising here, and spiking elsewhere in the region. Stay home, avoid crowds. This means no dining at restaurants, even outdoors, no barbecues, or family gatherings in Christmas Circle, wear a mask, and stay at least six feet distance from others.