California Expands Vaccine
Good News from Borrego Health
Last updated 4/29/2021 at 1:44pm
California Public Health updated its vaccine guidelines to open eligibility on March 15 to public transit workers, commercial airline workers and those living and working in congregate living spaces, including people experiencing homelessness and those in federal immigrant detention centers. That’s the same day millions of Californians with disabilities and severe health conditions are also set to become eligible for the vaccine. With population estimates for the group at about 4.4. million and with other eligible groups totaling some 13 million, nearly half of all Californians will now be eligible. However, shortages of the vaccines will make getting a shot difficult.
For the complete list on who qualifies and where to get vaccinated go to the county’s site, visit coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine or the California state site: covid19.ca.gov. Both have phone help lines for those who are not computer orientated.
MYTURN.CA.GOV is the state’s newest online vaccination website where people can check out eligibility and schedule an appointment. And if it’s not your turn, you can register to be notified. San Diego County and Borrego Health have implemented myturn for scheduling. Note: It is recommended to use a browser other than Internet Explorer to complete appointment registration.
For more information on who qualifies under the new eligibility guidelines go to https://myturn.ca.gov/. The website is accessible to people with disabilities and severe health problems and in eight languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese.
Or call the COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255 from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday-Friday or 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
To protect confidentiality, verification documentation of the diagnosis or type of disability is not required, instead, those eligible will be expected to sign a self-attestation confirming they meet the criteria.
The state says all vaccination sites should be accessible for those with disabilities.
The state has qualified home healthcare workers for vaccinations. Formal home healthcare workers are defined as paid workers who work in the home, while informal workers are not paid, and may be family members, who live or do not stay in the home. Both require certain documentation as proof of work. Best source: email email@example.com and ask for the criteria and documentation required.
For transportation help, officials suggest calling the local healthcare provider, health department or pharmacy. If there is not a provider in your area, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) can assist if you email them DHCSNMT@dhcs.ca.gov.
Borrego Health received some good news this week.
According to CEO Dr. Edgar Bulloch, Borrego Health has been invited by the federal Human Resources Services Agency (HRSA) to participate in President Joe Biden’s expanded, equity vaccination program, which will directly distribute vaccine supplies from the federal government to FQHC nonprofit health clinics, rather than through the limiting dependence on supplies from state and county allotments. The goal is to reach populations in rural, and high poverty areas with the most vulnerable and marginalized populations by utilizing clinics that already serve these populations through Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal ,and other government-sponsored funding.
Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHC), like Borrego Health, of which there are only 1,300 in the United States, serve people who cannot pay; the working poor, who fall within the poverty indexes; communities with a substantial population of minorities, agricultural workers, veterans, elders and families; living in locations where other options for health care do not exist and/or are not affordable. Dr. Bulloch has promised to keep the community advised as these supplies become available. Sign up on the website: https://myturn.ca.gov/ for vaccine notifications, or call (760) 767-3051 to make appointments.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bulloch reports that they have been vaccinating at the Borrego Springs Clinic, since Borrego Health received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“To date, we have 173 patients in Borrego Springs that have completed their 2-vaccine course. We have given an additional 281 patients their first dose. And are currently scheduling second doses.”
“The State of California also partnered with a third-party vendor, Blue Shield, to assist with vaccine distributions. It is anticipated that this, along with our HRSA FQHC participation, will allow us to have more predictable supplies that we can rely upon. All of our Borrego clinics are registered with Blue Shield to begin receiving shipments. Blue Shield is following our utilization and intends to match allocations with utilization. Our goal is to ensure we exhaust our supplies within 96 hours of delivery. This will ensure that we can get continued doses, and hopefully more than 100 per shipment at our Borrego Springs Medical Clinic.”
According to Donna Cleary from San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond’s office, the County is expected to get the Johnson & Johnson, one-dose vaccine in the next two weeks, and has nearly exhausted its supply of Moderna with second doses. This makes it likely that Borrego Health as part of the county’s supply chain will also be getting the J&J vaccine.
By joining with https://myturn.ca.gov/ the state’s new website, Borrego Health patients will be able to enter information online and then be directed to the Borrego clinic nearest them for vaccination, if they are currently in the phase eligible for vaccination. If they are not in the current phase of vaccinations, they can register to get notified when their phase opens. The site also directs recipients to a phone number to assist in scheduling.
“We are anticipating a large volume of calls for scheduling; we are appropriately preparing our call center to keep up with the demands,” Dr. Bulloch noted, adding that “The Borrego Springs clinic has been fortunate to complete second doses for the majority of patients.”
He urged people not to be dissuaded to get the second shot by any side effects from the first.
“It is important that patients know that they may have some symptoms such as low-grade fevers, chills, body aches and injection site discomfort after the first or second vaccination. This is evidence that the body’s immune system is mounting a response. I would encourage patients that if they have those side effects after their first dose to not let that dissuade you out of completing the series. Side effects may start around 11 hours after vaccination and may last 24 to 36 hours.”
“The side effects don’t happen in everybody and it’s important to note also that if you don’t have any symptoms after vaccination that it doesn’t mean the vaccine is not working. Everybody has different variations in how their body’s respond and react to vaccination.”
On other fronts: Operation Collaboration, the community coalition of local fire departments, returned to the Borrego library on February 20 and 21 to give second vaccinations to approximately 800 people that received the first dose. They were able to administer a few first-time vaccinations on that date.
According to Supervisor Desmond’s office, the Collaboration has no events planned in Borrego, or other rural sites at the moment due to the ongoing shortage of vaccines. Supplies remain extremely limited with most County sites focused on second doses. In the meantime, eligible Borrego Springs residents should use vaccinationsuperstationsd.com to monitor for the closest available sites in the County until rural visits resume.
For persons who received the first dose, and are concerned about getting the second vaccination, per CDC guidance, no grace period is allowed for early second doses: second doses may be administered up to 42 days after the first dose.
Also don’t forget to stay in touch with the Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force’s Facebook page or website: https://accesshealthborrgo.org. There, you can find vaccination appointment sites, and all anyone might need to know all in one place. The Task Force posted on Facebook that persons receiving their first dose at the library on February 20 or 21 that are concerned about getting the follow-up vaccination, are advised by the paramedics that three weeks after February 22, vaccines will be available at Cuyamaca and Carlsbad. For additional details, call 760 767-3052.