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COVID-19 vaccine distribution expected to expand in Stanislaus County
covid EMC patient
Castillo Preciado, 55, of Patterson, was released from Emanuel Medical Center on Friday after spending 39 days in the hospital battling and surviving COVID-19. Stanislaus County is currently averaging 65 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents each day, as vaccine distribution ramps up (Photo courtesy of EMC).

Stanislaus County health officials are working to ramp up efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine by opening additional vaccination sites around the county. The effort is being undertaken as more people are approved to get the shot, but additional doses have yet to be allocated.

A vaccination site is expected to open next week at Stanislaus State in Turlock and Stanislaus County is looking to start up sites in Patterson and Oakdale.

Earlier this week the California Department of Public health gave the green light for vaccines to be given to individuals 65 and older as demand subsides among health care workers.

“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state.”

Those in Phase 1A – health care workers and long-term care residents – remain the highest priority to receive vaccines. Demand for the vaccines continues to far exceed supply.

“With our hospitals crowded and ICUs full, we need to focus on vaccinating Californians who are at highest risk of becoming hospitalized to alleviate stress on our health care facilities,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer. “Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives.”

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency facility on Scenic Drive in Modesto began administering the vaccine on Thursday, which created a long line of individuals seeking the vaccine. Appointments are not needed for seniors, though individuals should expect a lengthy wait. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The vaccines currently being administered by SCHSA are from the 25,225 the state initially allocated. The county has not received any additional dosages of the vaccines. it's expected that by next week Kaiser and Sutter will both have vaccine supplies to start administering.

As part of the San Joaquin Valley region, Stanislaus County remains under the regional stay at home order because ICU capacity is still below 15%.

Additionally, Stanislaus County hospitals are part of the state's hospital surge plan because ICU capacity is below 10%. To preserve services for the sickest patients, the hospital surge order requires some non-essential and non-life-threatening surgeries to be delayed. The order requires hospitals statewide to accept patient transfers from facilities that have implemented contingency or crisis care guidelines as long as those transfers can be done capably and safely.

Stanislaus County is currently averaging 65 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents each day and a seven-day positivity rate of 16.6%. As of Friday, the county has recorded 41,270 positive cases and 730 deaths.