COVID-19 vaccine available to educators as supply increases

By Isabella Cano, Mar. 02, 2021

As COVID-19 cases have steadily declined in the United States in recent weeks, an increasing number of vaccinations have become available to the public. As a result, those working in education, including Cal Poly Pomona faculty and staff, are now able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in 35 out of 58 California counties.

Reaching the first tier of Phase 1B in the country’s vaccine distribution plan weeks early, educators and childcare providers residing or working in Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are just a few that have already been cleared to make vaccination appointments. Included in the education and faculty tier, student employees located in LA County will also be permitted to receive the vaccine starting March 1.

Frances Teves, coordinator of the COVID-19 Safer Return Task Force, stresses the importance of supply fluctuations when considering differences in vaccine distribution between various local regions. Initially allocated at a federal level, vaccinations are then distributed among California counties based on availability.

“Although all the counties are working under the same priority structure, because of supply and use, sometimes some areas are able to go into further tiers sooner rather than later,” Teves said.

For some CPP staff., the rapid progression of vaccine distribution phases in the Southern California region has been a surprising, yet exciting revelation.

“I just randomly tried the MyTurn website one day, put in all my information and it said I was eligible, and I thought, ‘Is that right?’ ‘Did I do it wrong?’ But I tried it again and it was right,” said Erin De Rosa, interim director of university advising, when she discovered she was eligible to receive the vaccine as a resident of San Bernardino County.

Temporarily closed on Feb. 22, CPP’s mass vaccination site provided close to 5,000 vaccines per day during its last days of operation, totaling an estimated 25,000 vaccines administered so far. Kaiser Permanente is leading the consortium and vaccination efforts on campus and is set to receive about 20% of California’s vaccine supply at the start of March. The hub has reopened to the public as of Feb 25.

An LA County resident herself, Cecilia Santiago-Gonzalez, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives for student success, is eager to receive her vaccine when she becomes eligible.

“When I took my mom to get her vaccine at Cal Poly, everyone was so kind and I immediately felt this sense of hope and relief transmitted by the people working there,” she said. “Now that we have the opportunity to take the vaccine as educators, I have no hesitation.”

Los Angeles County

With only about 11.8% of residents vaccinated as of Feb. 20, the City of Pomona has gradually fallen behind neighboring cities in the race to vaccinate due to a higher concentration of cases in Los Angeles County, approximately 1.2 million to date.

Considering the size of Los Angeles County and the 10 million people who inhabit it, the almost 2 million doses administered as of Feb. 26 leave less than 10% of county residents fully vaccinated. Because each successful individual vaccination requires two doses at least 21 days apart, this vaccine to person ratio gap created an enormous need for steady dosing throughout the county.

As part of a plan to expedite the distribution process, the Biden administration opened an additional mass vaccination center at California State University, Los Angeles on Feb. 16. Meant to reach underserved communities in the Los Angeles area, medical practitioners have the capacity to distribute about 6,000 vaccine doses a day via drive-thru or walk-up appointments.

“The least stressful part of the entire experience was getting the vaccine,” said De Rosa, when describing her visit to the CSULA vaccination center. “It was painless, and the process was really smooth.”

California

As of Feb. 25, a newly recorded 5,400 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state of California, totaling about 3.5 million cases to date.

To combat these figures, providers reported administering a total of 8.2 million vaccine doses throughout the state.

Multiple new mutations of the coronavirus are currently under investigation. The California Public Department of Health has reported that strains B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1, though only responsible for 208 cases, are the only known variants of concern for the public at this moment in time.

While test result turnaround time and vaccination efforts seem to be improving, health equity among different demographics in the state continue to show discrepancies in COVID-19 cases.

According to the California Coronavirus State Dashboard, Pacific Islanders have 37% more COVID cases within their community than the rest of the state, COVID-19 death rates for Latinx people are 21% higher than statewide totals and 7% higher for Black people.

These disparities are linked to underlying conditions, including less access to medical care, and food and job insecurity prevalent in minority communities.

A Feb. 8 study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed the racial and ethnic disparities among Kaiser Permanente members living in Northern California. From the almost 3.5 million eligible members, 91,212 were tested for COVID-19 and 3,686 resulted positive. The data demonstrated that black and other non-white people had the highest testing, mortality, and infection rates, while white people had the lowest.

“I identify as a Latina, and Latinos have been significantly impacted in disproportionate rates by COVID for many reasons,” said Santiago-Gonzalez. “For me, in terms of having that additional perspective and my mom finally being able to take the vaccine, it was really important to me.”

The United States

Initially promising a total of 100 million vaccine doses within the first 100 days of his administration, on Feb 26., President Biden marked the milestone of 50 million vaccines distributed at a mass vaccination site in Texas following massive snowstorms and blackouts in the state.

As of Feb 4. the Johnson and Johnson corporation have vied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in order to proceed with a new viable vaccination program. On Feb. 26, the FDA ultimately approved the country’s third emergency vaccine.

In response, the Biden administration assured that the FDA would not have approved the new vaccine without the proper scientific backing to support such a decision.

“We’ve all seen the news about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Today, this third safe and effective vaccine is out,” said Biden. “We are going to use every conceivable way to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, to make even more rapid progress.”

On Feb. 26, Governor Newsom announced that the state of California is expected to receive 380,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine within the next week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases total 28.2 million COVID-19 cases nationwide and counting. Biden urged the public to continue following national preventative measures and guidelines.

“This is not a time to relax,” said Biden in an address to the public at the NRG Stadium vaccination center in Houston, Texas. “We must keep washing our hands, stay socially distanced, and for God’s sake – for God’s sake – wear a mask.”

To determine eligibility status for the COVID-19 vaccine or to schedule an appointment, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/.

Feature image Lauren Muttram | The Poly Post

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