The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Yuba-Sutter, bringing with it hope that the pandemic is nearing its end, though the rollout of the vaccine will take place in phases and likely won’t be available to the general public for several months.
According to Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu, the rollout of the vaccine in Yuba-Sutter is being overseen by Bi-County Public Health. Both counties share Luu as their health officer.
The week of Dec. 14, Yuba-Sutter received its first dose of 975 Pfizer vaccines. The second batch included 800 Moderna vaccines -- 600 for Sutter County and 200 for Yuba County. Last week, 1,100 Moderna vaccines were delivered – 700 for Sutter County and 400 for Yuba County, according to Luu.
The facilities that have received vaccine allocations so far include Adventist Health/Rideout, Ampla Health, Harmony Health, Peach Tree Health, Sutter Surgical and Sutter Medical Foundation, Sutter County Public Health and Yuba County Public Health.
“We are hoping to allocate to other healthcare facilities as soon as they are registered with the state to attest that they have the appropriate storage and handling capability for the vaccine,” Luu said.
Vaccine distribution in Yuba and Sutter will be overseen by Bi-County Public Health and will follow the guidelines provided by the state. Each healthcare facility will oversee the disbursement of its vaccine allotment.
“In addition, the counties plan to host mass vaccination clinics for eligible individuals in the coming weeks,” Luu said.
According to Luu, the vaccine will be provided to the public for free, though some facilities may charge administrative costs associated with providing the vaccine.
“Logistics for how the vaccine will be distributed are still being worked through, though it is likely the general public can receive the vaccine through various outpatient clinics, pharmacies, and mass vaccination clinics,” Luu said.
New doses are expected to be delivered each week, but the supply per week is unknown and variable, Luu said. The variability comes from the federal government and right now distribution is in phase 1A – direct healthcare workers.
“We expect 1B of vaccine rollout to begin in early February,” Luu said. “That timeline may be impacted by several factors including the ability to complete most of phase 1A-eligible individuals who would like to be vaccinated, availability of vaccine doses physically arrived to our area, and availability of staff to conduct vaccinations.”
Phase 1B vaccinations will include individuals 75 years and older, workers in education/child care, workers in emergency services, and workers in food and agriculture, according to Luu. The second tier of phase 1B will include individuals 65 years and older with underlying medical conditions or a disability, workers in transportation/logistics, workers in industrial, residential or commercial sectors, workers in critical manufacturing, incarcerated individuals and homeless/unhoused individuals.
Beyond that, Luu said, it’s difficult to say when the vaccine will be available to the general public.
“With so many factors at play – including the physical availability of the vaccine in Yuba-Sutter – it’s difficult to give a set date but likely in several months,” Luu said. “... This is a massive effort with rapidly evolving information being provided by both the state and federal level. Please be patient as we learn new information and work through the inevitable speed bumps on our road to widespread vaccine availability.”