Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Vaccine For All in Borrego

 

Last updated 3/3/2021 at 10:58am



It’s up to us, Borrego.

Can we get enough people inoculated with vaccines to reach a 70 percent immunity level? If we can, maybe, then we can finally take off the masks, sit in favorite restaurants, hit the shops, play indoors and share our homes with family and friends. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have challenges if we are to win the race against the pandemic.

There are obstacles; our desert oasis is miles from urban commercial resources, including health care: Borrego Springs has only one medical provider, facing challenges of acquiring enough vaccine doses to equitably share with its clinics spread across three counties.

The closest neighboring communities offering public vaccinations and private health care providers are out of reach too many residents. This is for a variety of reasons: money, no transportation, housebound due to medical issues, language barriers, and on the wrong side of the digital divide: no computers, smart phones, or social media, poor WiFi access and computer incompetency.

Yet, when push comes to shove, we get our voices heard. An example was the urgent messages regarding vaccinations, conveyed by community organizations and individuals to San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond and the county. As a result, 800 people, on very short notice; relying on neighbor to neighbor communication networks; received their first shots. The vaccination super site was organized by the Community Collaborative, which is authorized by the county, and consists of various local fire departments, and CAL Fire, trained and well organized to come in, set up a mobile clinic and give shots in rural communities, like Borrego.

Thanks to all who made that happen. However, this was just the first of many urgent steps the community must take.

THE SECOND DOSE:

Those receiving the first Pfizer vaccine at the library, courtesy of the fire departments, must return for the second dose. Everyone who received a shot is scheduled for the second dose. Please don’t forget to follow up. If you lost, or do not remember your appointment date and time, simply show up at the library next weekend, and the officials will guide you through.

Current California statistics reveal a serious drop off in people receiving the second and most important shot. Reasons include difficulty in finding a provider to give the same vaccine in a timely manner, fear of side effects, and a belief that one shot is good enough based on stories that some countries are stretching out supply by relying on single doses. Just one dose does not build the immunity the community and individuals need to stop the spread, and equally important, stop giving the virus time to mutate into more deadly varieties. Urge friends and family to get that second dose.Don’t let fear of side effects deter you from returning for a second dose.

As with any vaccination, side effects occur for some individuals. CDC describes common COVID-19 vaccine side effects as pain and swelling in the arm of the injection site and fever, chills, tiredness, and headache, similar to what is described for the flu shot. While side effects appear to be milder with the first dose than the second, some people who experience COVID-19 vaccination side effects with the with first dose may be deterred from completing the series. Indeed, nationally representative polling has found that among those who are probably or definitely not planning to get a COVID-19 vaccine, 81 percent say worries about side effects are a reason for this position, and 59 percent say it is a major reason.

IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY GET THE FIRST SHOT:

Find out if, and when, you qualify for vaccination – currently 65 plus and healthcare workers, and more. For the definitive list of who qualifies, go to: covid19.ca.gov. It’s important to keep up to date, because new groups are constantly being added. For example, California has given the green light to COVID-19 vaccine providers to offer shots to residents age 16 to 64 with disabilities, or severe underlying health conditions, starting March 15. This will add an estimated four to six million individuals to the state’s current eligibility list.

Currently, an estimated 13 million people are eligible for the vaccine in California, including health care workers in Phase 1A, as well as certain essential workers and residents age 65 and older in Phase 1B. The new additions will push the total to nearly half the state’s population of just under 40 million.

SIGN UP OR GET ON WAITING LISTS:

Go to the following link to sign up for future vaccinations in Borrego Springs and neighboring communities. Large pharmacies and some grocery stores are also offering vaccinations.

https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/vaccines/COVID-19-VaxEvents.html

California also has a COVID-19 hotline: 1-833-422-4255, available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for information and referrals for emotional support.

Call the Borrego Springs Clinic at 760-767-5051. The clinic has recently been making some shots available to persons 65 plus, and compiling a waiting list for when more doses become available. Note that the clinic is offering the Moderna vaccine. The clinic relies on phone calls, and phone messaging, as opposed to computer signups and notices, which is good for harder to reach populations. The issue with the clinic is access to enough vaccine.

However, help is on the way for federally funded community clinics, like Borrego Springs, with announced plans by the federal government to begin directly allocating COVID-19 vaccine supplies to community health centers, which primarily serve low-income and marginalized communities.

The Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force offers the following tips:

- If you don’t have internet access: consider asking a friend or family member to register for you. It can be done online from anywhere.

Or call the San Diego County human services number, 211. As of this writing: after you reach 211, press 1; then 1, then 1 again; and you will be answered by a person who can try to schedule an appointment for you on the county website.

- If you are homebound, the county is setting up a waiting list to schedule a home visit to administer the vaccination, most likely by a local fire department. They warn it might take some time to organize this service. (Call 211 to get on this waiting list).

- Remember after both vaccinations, it will be at least two weeks before your immunity fully builds up – you should still wear a mask, social distance, and wash hands frequently. It will take months to achieve herd immunity, fewer if we help each other get vaccinated.

THE COST OF VACCINATIONS:

The vaccine is free. However, administrative fees for the shot may be charged to your insurance carrier, depending on where you receive the vaccination. According to Borrego Health CEO, Dr. Edgar Bulloch, Borrego Health will be billing patients and insurance for the fee to administer this vaccine. Although the reimbursement amount will vary depending on the insurance, the current fee for the first dose is $16.94, and the second dose is $28.30. For patients that are uninsured, Borrego Health provides an application process for a sliding fee discount program based on poverty level.

OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO VACCINATIONS:

With 50 percent of Americans saying, “They aren’t sure if they will get the vaccination or not,” our community must do a better job of educating people about the need for vaccines, creating trust in the vaccine and providers, and getting the resistant vaccinated with both doses. An effort to overcome the variety of reasons people, who aren’t sure, or those who have decided they aren’t going to get the vaccinations, is definitely needed.

COVID Exhaustion and The Desire for Normal Social Contact Are Real from Schools to The Mall. Last, but not least, is the temptation among some, with the growing number of vaccinations, to move from lockdown to normal mingling. Even more dangerous is the idea that with some of the people vaccinated, those, who have refused to follow the safety precautions, and have lived life as if the virus is not a real danger, will be further emboldened to wantonly spread the disease.

Despite A Looming Variant Risk, Poll Finds Americans Growing Less Concerned. While new cases continue to drop from January peaks, disease experts warn infections from new variants and holiday celebrations could halt progress. Meanwhile, among Americans the perceived risk of COVID-19 is lower than any time since October, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll published February 8, 2021. With 66 percent reporting that they thought returning to a pre-pandemic life was a moderate risk.

Also, continue to set the example and remind visitors to our community to wear masks and socially isolate. The rules of outdoor and takeout service for restaurants still apply for good reason.

A final word: Consider this plea from the Borrego Springs COVID Task Force: “We call on the community spirit that Borrego is known for, and ask that we all try to help each other get vaccinated. It will make our whole town safer and healthier, and hopefully avoid more deaths of loved ones. Communicating about vaccine availability, even helping others sign up for appointments, can literally be life-saving.

“We suggest that everyone in Borrego should have a goal to look after at least one other person who needs an assist, whether it be technological or just a phone number to call (and encouragement to keep trying).”

“Folks who need help could be someone whose English is limited, who don’t have a computer or internet, or one’s elderly or reclusive neighbor. We are a beautiful, but isolated community and we must seize opportunities during COVID to reach out and help the neighbor-stranger.”

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