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COVID-19
From Ventura to San Luis Obispo, from Santa Barbara to Santa Maria, KCLU's in-depth, thoughtful coverage of all the news that matter to you.

Central, South Coast Counties Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts, But Lack Of Vaccine An Issue

Jonathan Chew is excited.  He works in a Ventura County dental office.  Because of the high risk he faces of COVID-19 exposure, he’s on the priority list for a vaccination.  He’s getting that shot.

In a building at the Ventura County Fairgrounds that most people know as an exhibit hall, he's one of about a hundred people are waiting for their shots.  The building is the size of an aircraft hangar, so the people are socially spaced throughout the building.  There's a long line which stretches outside.

The county is ramping up quickly to meet the demand.  There’s a carefully orchestrated flow of people through the giant vaccination site.  Ventura County has drafted people from throughout its different departments to run the clinic, so the medical professionals can focus on administering the shots.   They've gone from 400 vaccinations a day to around a thousand a day in just three days.

Ventura County Public Health officials say the biggest issue is getting enough vaccine.  Right now, the county is receiving about 10,000 doses a week.

Governor Gavin Newsom threw another twist into the equation on Wednesday.  He announced that those 65 years old or older are being moved up the priority list, and can get vaccinations now.  The rationale is that older adults make up the majority of those in the state’s hospitals.

But, Barry Zimmerman, who’s the Deputy Director of Ventura County’s Health Care Agency, says the catch is having the vaccine to meet the demand.  Right now, they are only getting a fraction of what they need.

So, the bottom line is that while those 65 plus have been moved up the priority list, they still have to sit tight.  Some counties opened up online registration portals.  People can only get the vaccinations in the county where they live.  And, while counties in the region want to ramp up the number of shots they give every day, it takes more vaccine to do it.

Meanwhile, we are seeing the highest number of coronavirus cases on the Central and South Coasts since the start of the pandemic.  More than 2200 new cases were reported Wednesday, with Ventura County having more than 1500.  The feared holiday surge in new cases on top of a surge is underway. 

Officials with the region’s hospitals say so far, they are meeting the challenge.  Dr. Rick Rutherford is a physician in Ventura County Medical Center’s ER.  He says the are busy, and overworked, but meeting the demand.  But, they are worried about what the situation could be like in a week, because the double surge could mean a huge new wave of people needing hospitalization.