by Tia Will
Once again I am writing an update on the novel corona virus. I begin with a summary of the presentations provided to the Board of Supervisors and the Health Council including updates on our current situation and the ever-changing plans for meeting the challenges in a rapidly changing situation. The hope I allude to is the development and new availability of vaccines. The challenge involves the evolving recognition of viral variants.
First the new hope: an overview of our current situation.
- Earlier in the week we discussed the end of the stay at home order and move into the purple tier. It was initially unclear what determined this change. As it turns out, it was not the current number of county or regional ICU beds, but rather a statistical projection of a 15% bed availability if the numbers remain stable over a two-week time period.
- Our current case rate is 47 per 100,000 individuals with a positivity rate of 11.7% as of 1/12/21, both representing an increase over the previous week.
- We currently have two vaccines available in Yolo County, The Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. It is hoped that a third vaccine which requires only one dose will be approved in the near future.
- Current efforts to distribute the vaccine in an equitable manner in the county are limited by an inconsistent allocation of vaccine with quantity that will be available not known until one week in advance of distribution. The vaccines are free and available according to a tiered protocol available on the county COVID information site. It is now possible for citizens of Yolo County to fill out an online application to be assigned a spot in line and be contacted when your vaccine is available.
- The vaccines distribution chain is as follows:
- The vaccine is sent from the manufacturer to the CDC.
- From the CDC it goes to the California Department of Public Health which distributes to public health providers such as Communicare, to pharmacies and to Multicounty providers such as UCD Health, Sutter, Dignity and Kaiser for phased distribution.
- The current preference is to utilize existing systems for vaccination with the knowledge that new administration systems will have to be developed to immunize the population in a timely manner.
- Plans to expand vaccination capacity include: expanding the county workforce through recruitment of volunteers, creating mobile points of dispensing (mPODS) such as workplaces, invitation only drive through clinics, invitation only walk-up clinics
- Recognized challenges include underserved communities, communities of color, primary foreign language speakers, those of limited mobility including the homebound. A subgroup of the Health Council is working on the development of improved systems including communication, updates of the dashboards and outreach to the above groups.
- As of 1/8/21 Yolo County had received 4,750 doses and administered 3,412 of those doses. Details of distribution are available on the county site. Additional doses have been requested with approval pending.
- Phases of the roll out are available on the County website with timeline indeterminate at this time. The vaccine webpage is available at: yolocounty.org/coronavirus-vaccine
Now – the new challenge
According to the CDC, there are now multiple mutant strains of the novel coronavirus circulating in the world. The one that has made the most news here is the variant found first in the UK. This variant has the trait of easier transmissibility but does not seem to be associated with more severe symptoms or increased fatality.
This mutant strain has been identified in at least 3 states with the first cases reported in Ohio. If it is in these three states, we can be assured of one thing. It simply has not been detected yet in others. A rapidly spreading strain is a particular danger due to the possibility of spread to more people while the primary individual is still asymptomatic.
This is important to understand as so many people I have spoken to either in my actual life or on social media do not understand some critical points. Here’s a summary:
- The vaccine does not keep an individual from contracting the virus. It’s mechanism of action is to prime the immune system to be able to fend off the virus more rapidly and efficiently with fewer immune system caused side effects.
- At the current rate of administration (which of course we hope to improve) it would take us a little over a year to immunize everyone in Yolo County.
- The vaccination is unlikely to be a panacea in the near future for another reason. Even amongst health care workers who were given the first option, the rate of acceptance of the vaccines has been lower than hoped. The vaccine is unlikely to have optimal benefit until 70% of the population has been immunized.
It is for these reasons that I am going to make a personal plea to our readership:
- When it is not necessary to go out, please stay home
- If you must go out please socially distance, limit your time in close proximity, wear a mask and disinfect.
- In you are going to gather please do so outdoors, limit your groups to ten or fewer if possibly from a maximum of 3 households.
So, in closing, please stay home, stay safe.
Tia Will is a retired OBGYN and a member of the Vanguard Board.
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: