Dale Stocky celebrates his 75th birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccination he'd newly become eligible for at a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic Jan. 23 at Pacific Union Elementary School.
Mad River Community Hospital is asking people not to come to its scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinics unless they have received an invitation directly from their primary healthcare provider or been referred to the clinic by Humboldt County Public Health or their employer.
While word of the clinics scheduled this week and next has spread rapidly via email chains and social media, hospital spokesperson Jacqueline Martin said they are being held specifically for patients of the hospital’s health clinics — Mad River Express, Six Rivers Medical Center, Humboldt Family Medical Center and home health — who are 75 and older, as well as a handful of others referred by Public Health. People who haven’t been informed of the clinic schedule by Public Health or their primary care provider should not try to attend, Martin said.
“We don’t want tons of people trying to get a vaccine that we either aren’t authorized to provide or do not have vaccine availability to provide,” Martin said in an email to the Journal
, adding the weekday clinics will also be primarily giving second doses to patients who have already received their first.
Martin added that too many people showing up at the clinics — which have planned for a limited number of patients — can risk patient health, potentially turning a vaccination event into an opportunity to spread the virus to vulnerable populations.
“Too many people showing up to the hospital causes issues for social distancing,” she said.
Fueling the anxiety and the search for vaccine clinics is the fact that Humboldt County currently has far more people eligible to receive the vaccine — an estimated 27,000 healthcare workers, first responders, educators and residents over the age of 75 — than it has available doses, which Health Officer Ian Hoffman has said are coming in batches of 1,000 to 2,000 per week. Hoffman has repeatedly urged those eligible to receive a vaccine to fill out an interest form
on the county’s website — or call the county’s Joint Information Center at 441-5000 if they don’t have internet access — and wait to be contacted by their primary care provider, employer or Public Health to schedule an appointment. He said he has urged healthcare providers to try to prioritize patients who are both over the age of 75 and have underlying health issues that make them most vulnerable to suffering critical outcomes of the disease.
During a media availability today, Hoffman acknowledged that Humboldt County currently has far more residents eligible to receive the vaccine than the supply allows.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said. “We have to balance a lot of priorities and really it is a zero-sum situation at this point because when you give the vaccine to one person, you’re taking it away from another person.”
Hoffman added that Public Health and local providers are trying to vaccinate everyone currently eligible as fast “as supply allows.”
Martin said those uncertain about whether they qualify or have been invited to a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic are welcome to call the hospital’s vaccine information line at 826-8250. The state of California, meanwhile, has also launched a website for residents to sign up to be notified when they are eligible to receive the vaccine, which can be found here
The Times-Standard reported
today that St. Joseph Health Medical Group, Redwood Memorial Hospital Rural Health Clinic and Open Door Community Health centers have also began scheduling appointments to vaccinate their patients who are over the age of 75.