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SLO County grows COVID-19 vaccine capacity 

More than 1,300 front-line health care workers have now received COVID-19 vaccination shots in San Luis Obispo County, according to SLO County Public Health, and the department announced on Dec. 30 that it recently tripled its vaccine supply to about 7,000 doses.

click to enlarge PROTECTION SLO city paramedic Alec Flatos was one of the first locals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Photo Courtesy Of SLO County Public Health
  • PROTECTION SLO city paramedic Alec Flatos was one of the first locals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18.

The first batch of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that arrived in SLO between Dec. 16 and 22 went to inoculate hospital workers, first responders, dialysis staff, primary and urgent care clinicians, and home health care workers.

Now, SLO County is inviting all health care workers who provide "direct, in-person clinical care"—and aren't getting vaccinated through their employer—to sign up for a shot via the Public Health Department. Workers eligible for vaccinations now include specialists, like optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, and physical therapists.

"This protects them and the people in their care," SLO Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in a Dec. 30 press release, "as COVID-19 surges in our community."

Residents and staff at long-term care facilities are also beginning to get vaccinated through CVS and Walgreens, Borenstein said. The state is taking charge of vaccination efforts in its local facilities, like the California Men's Colony and Atascadero State Hospital, which were hit with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks this year.

SLO County's two hospital systems—Dignity Health and Tenet Healthcare—received their own allotments of vaccine from local and state public health agencies. At Dignity Health, that supply will be enough to inoculate its entire area workforce, according to spokesperson Sara San Juan.

"At this time, Dignity Health has sufficient supply to offer vaccinations to all local Dignity Health employees and medical staff members," San Juan told New Times.

Moving forward, SLO County will next look to start vaccinating "other vulnerable populations and essential workers," but it doesn't expect to receive sufficient supplies to do so until February or March. Borenstein promised to outline the specific distribution priorities in January, based on state and federal recommendations.

"I recognize that many more people in our community, including our medically vulnerable neighbors and our essential workers, are also ready for the vaccine," Borenstein said. "I wish we could bring the vaccine to everyone in SLO County who wants it today. We are working swiftly to vaccinate our front-line health workers first, then the many other important and valued people in our community." Δ

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