MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County officials have already started planning the next phases of Covid-19 vaccine distribution and recipient prioritization after distributing the first round of vaccines last month.
“Monterey County will have, to date, an allocation totaling 12,550 vaccines that includes both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, the county’s health officer, during a press briefing on Dec. 23.
In addition to the county having prioritized the four area hospitals and their frontline health workers, plans are in the works to vaccinate those in other facilities, such as long-term care facilities and dialysis centers.
“It’s very important that they get vaccinated so they don’t get Covid-19 and transmit it to their clients, many of whom are immune compromised,” Moreno said.
Beyond the first group of priority recipients, he said the second group would include additional long-term care facilities, in-home supported services, public health staff engaged with clients, primary care clinics, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics.
“It’s going to be particularly important for our primary care clinics to get vaccinated because they have a large number of vaccinators,” Moreno said. “They have medical staff that can vaccinate the community.”
According to Moreno, once the county moves toward the next priority tiers and gets those workers vaccinated to develop immunity, plans will be in place to begin vaccinating community residents.
Upcoming priority groups include specialty clinics, laboratories, dental offices, pharmacy workers and residents age 75 or older.
In speaking of upcoming priority groups, Moreno said, “Frontline essential workers include first responders, like firefighters and police, educators, people engaged in food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections workers, postal service workers, transit workers and grocery store workers. And then the next group would be the remaining essential workers in our county. We are working on developing plans to get each of these groups vaccinated.”
Moreno said the county is observing which facilities report having too few vaccine doses and which ones have surplus, and is in the process of getting approval to redistribute doses within the jurisdiction as needed.
While vaccines have begun, he reminded the public that health guidelines continue to be in effect.
“Right now the cases continue to increase,” Moreno said. “We’re trying to get people to understand the stay-at-home order is requiring that people stay home and not gather with other people that are not part of their household. That’s how this virus is spreading.”
On Thursday, an additional 185 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were added to the county’s cumulative total of 30,706 cases. There have been 229 deaths related to the virus countywide, including nine reported Thursday.
According to Moreno, the health orders have worked to reduce transmission; however, there are people who have chosen to gather against orders, such as private gatherings inside homes.
“The stay-at-home order is effective, but it’s only as effective as all the guidance, and avoid mingling with people,” Moreno said.
The current order was written to last until Jan. 11, but it included the possibility of extension.
Moreno did not confirm whether the order will end as scheduled or be extended, but he did explain the county monitors data to make its plans. One metric being evaluated is the ICU bed availability and projecting when it will be more than 15%.
Moreno also said he could not confirm numbers or arrival times for the next allocations of Covid-19 vaccinations.