Vaccines Are Here: County Health Officials provide update


Courtesy of Fresno County Department of Public Health

Story By: David Richards, Opinion Editor

On the heels of Governor of California, Gavin Newsom’s visit to the Central Valley on Feb. 9 2021, Fresno County Department of Public Health Officials expressed optimism for the direction of vaccine rollouts in the valley at a media briefing Friday Feb. 12.

“A phenomenal time right now, because we hit our first 100,000 doses in Fresno county, definitely a high clap for that,” said FCDPH Division Manager, Joe Prado. “This is what Fresno county can do when we all come together with all of our partnership and collaboration.”   

While Fresno County has administered more than 100,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, it still ranks 41st out of the 58 counties in the state, on a list comparing vaccine distribution, compiled by the Los Angeles Times.   

During his visit, Newsom announced new vaccination facilities at select OptumServe testing sites across the state to help administer vaccinations. 

This includes a site at the Reedley College campus, which Newson said could begin vaccinations as early as Feb. 18 and administer more than 400 doses a day.

Fresno City College also has an OptumServe testing site located on campus,but there has been no word yet on whether this location will be included as a future vaccination facility. 

California Department of Public Health Officials’s attempts at vaccinating the public have been fraught with challenges early on— from the distribution of a limited stock of vaccines to educating communities on the safety of the vaccine.

This comes as California Health officials acknowledge difficulties such as convincing many healthcare workers to even get the vaccine— with nearly 50% opting out in some California Counties.

But for Justin Valeriote, a FCC nursing student in his second semester, the decision was easy.

“I’m happy I did it and I don’t have any regrets. I just felt like it was another step forward in getting things to reopen,” Valeriote said.

Valeriote, who works at the Community Regional Medical Center, received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 20 2020 and his second dose three weeks later. 

For both doses, he says he had mild symptoms the next couple days, having a sore arm, nothing else.

And Valeriote says he heard similar experiences from other FCC nursing classmates.

While he acknowledges people may have grievances towards receiving a vaccine developed so quickly, he sees it differently.

“Even though it was a faster process, I felt like the amount of money and the amount of resources that were put into it, kind of made up for that,” he said. 

In the weeks ahead FCDPH officials say they will continue to vaccinate people 65 and older, healthcare workers and begin vaccinating food and agriculture workers, according to their webpage

However FCDPH Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra encourages people waiting to receive their vaccine to continue to get tested for the virus.

“There’s plenty of testing still available. I know we don’t talk about it as much as vaccines these days, but it’s still a very important component and a very important layer of safety as we try and drive down the community case rate,” he said during the media briefing. 

FCC students looking to find information on when they can get vaccinated for COVID-19 are encouraged to check the FCDPH website.