The Colusa County Board of Supervisors and Department of Health and Human Services are throwing out the state’s coronavirus vaccine eligibility matrix in order to vaccinate those who need it the most: people ages 65 and older.
Between now and March 30, Colusa County will skip the working-sector eligibility matrix to get vaccines into the group that has suffered the most from complications of COVID-19 or have died.
Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly said Colusa County has reported a total of 2,139 positive cases of COVID-19 since its emergence nearly one year ago, with 13 deaths. The youngest Colusa County resident to die from COVID-19 complications was a 59-year-old with multiple underlying health conditions, including lung disease. The others were community members over the age of 65 and elderly residents in skilled nursing facilities.
Kelly said one person was hospitalized as of Tuesday, although active COVID-19 cases in isolation continues to trend downward.
Now that most teachers and health care workers have been vaccinated, the county will focus on vaccinating those 65 and up in order to get a jump on the state’s plan to open vaccinations to everyone on April 1.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to rent Atwood Hall at the Colusa County Fairground for the next few months in order for Public Health to establish a semi-permanent vaccination clinic that will not require repeated set up or tear down. The first open clinic for about 170 residents 65 and older was held on Wednesday. Future clinics will be scheduled each Wednesday and Friday as vaccine allocation and inventory allows. Teachers and remaining health care workers will receive their second doses of the vaccine on Saturday.
After April 1, vaccination will be open to anyone, but only if doses are available.
“The state is moving to change vaccine distribution to counties and is requiring counties to participate in the Third Party Administrator through Blue Shield for vaccine distribution, and are requiring counties to participate in the My Turn online software the state has created,” Kelly said. “The state’s intent is to ensure that come April 1, anyone wanting the vaccine, no matter their county of residence, no matter their age, no matter their working sector can get vaccinated, thereby making county boundaries no longer relevant, nor age groups.”
Until then, Colusa County residents 65 and older are encouraged to log onto www.countyofcolusa.org/949/Vaccine to schedule their appointments as the clinics are established. A phone line has also been established to assist those without access to the internet and Spanish speaking: (530) 458-0382. The county will schedule an appointment for the second dose of Pfizer and Modena vaccines when the first shot is given.
Currently, Colusa County receives an average 200 doses every 10-days, and Kelly expects Colusa County’s allocations to remain low, even after April 1, when people from other counties, such as Sacramento, could schedule to get a vaccine in Colusa.
“But that does not mean we will get increased vaccines,” Kelly said. “Just to be clear, that does not equate to the same.”
California is also expected to receive allocations of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration recently approved.
“We are still waiting to hear on that vaccine allocation for the county,” Kelly reported. “Johnson & Johnson, as you recall, is single doses.”
As of Tuesday, Colusa County received 3,800 doses of vaccine, with 1,370 issued to health care providers, and 1,202 administered by Public Health.