Coos County saw a new influx of COVID-19 vaccines this week as Bay Area Hospital received another 1,300 doses, bringing its total number of doses to 2,500. About 1,400 in the county had been vaccinated county-wide by Tuesday.
Access to vaccines is still very limited, as is some information about which facilities in the county have been receiving and administering them. Currently, only health care personnel are eligible for the vaccine under state guidelines.
Locally, Coos Health & Wellness doesn’t keep track of who’s receiving vaccines in the county — and also isn’t the final decision maker for moving between phases of vaccine distribution.
“Most of the vaccines have gone to Bay Area Hospital, and although we work closely with them, it’s not Coos County Public Health that is doing the distribution or the decision making for all of that,” said Katrinka McReynolds, CHW’s prevention service coordinator.
Instead, decisions are made by a mix of state officials and local health providers. State officials establish vaccination prioritization rules and ship doses direct to hospitals, clinics and other facilities. Once they have doses in hand, those providers have the task of opening up vials of vaccine and getting them administered.
“We don’t keep track of who’s been vaccinated, so much as we’re trying to ensure those groups are being given the opportunity to be vaccinated,” CHW Assistant Director Dr. Eric Gleason said Tuesday.
Still, the department plans to help county residents find out when it’s their turn to get vaccinated. CHW staff are currently developing programs to allow community members and businesses to sign up for notifications about their spot in line, Gleason said.
“You’ll get updates as to when your group is ready for vaccines,” Gleason said.
Still, that system will require a significant degree of collaboration between various players involved, including hospitals, clinics, providers, pharmacies and department staff.
“We’re not close to there, that’s going to be a while,” Gleason said. “But we are working on a system of gathering that information and informing those individuals that fill out that form.”
Also in development are “PODs,” or Points of Distribution, for vaccine deployment. Gleason said CHW is working with the county’s hospitals to get those set up in more rural parts of the county, and will publicize them to the groups that are eligible.
“Those are all much larger conversations that come up during our meetings with those community partners,” Gleason said.