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‘That’s not right’ | Stanislaus, San Joaquin say they're getting short end of vaccine allocation

Some elected officials in the Central Valley are arguing for their counties "fair share" of the coronavirus vaccine and resources.

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif — Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties say they’re ready to vaccinate thousands of people every day, but like many others in California, they just need the vaccine. However, unlike some of the other counties, some believe they are on the short end of the vaccine allocation.

“I can tell you that it’s not a claim. It’s real,” said Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor. “When you look at the statistics on vaccinations per 100,000, you have areas of the state that have been more successful. They receive more vaccines than we have.”

In an earlier Board of Supervisors meeting, Chiesa vented some frustration over the vaccinations per 100,000 in the county as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times vaccination tracker had places like Stanislaus and San Joaquin County on the lower half of their ranks. Chiesa said the ranking is not a lack of effort on the county’s part because they’re putting vaccines in arms as fast as they can.

“We don’t have any vaccines sitting in any freezer or refrigerator at the end of the week,” he said. “We’re giving 100% of the doses.”

Over in San Joaquin, Dr. Maggie Park, county health officer, said the county has gotten about 75,000 doses with roughly 50,000 given out to providers. Some are being held as second doses. 

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Tom Patti, Chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, said all the elements are there to deliver vaccinations except for the inventory. He said the county is lagging in a “proportionate distribution of supply and of the vaccinations.”

“We’re waiting. We’re praying for that 20-30-50,000 vaccination arrival, so we can get it to the arms of those that want it and those that need it and those that are most at risk,” Patti said. “We are ready. We just need our supply.”

For Chiesa, it’s about getting a “fair share” in the allocations. He’s not the only person staking that claim either. A number of Central Valley Congressmen penned a letter to Gov. Newsom on the distribution issues and low vaccination rates in the Central Valley.

“The valley has suffered more than many other regions in our state that are getting more vaccine," Congressman Josh Harder (D-10) said, representing Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. "That’s why it’s so important to fight for our fair share.”

Harder cited the Los Angeles Times vaccination tracker for the claim in a news release. He compared Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties vaccinations by population with Marin and Napa’s numbers, which he said were almost double at the time. A real-time look at the vaccination tracker can be found HERE.

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The California Department of Health (CDPH) knows supply is an issue and said manufacturing is the big hurdle to overcome.

“The No. 1 factor in the lack of vaccines for any county, state or country is the extremely constrained vaccine supply overall,” CDPH said in a statement to ABC10. “We are working with our federal partners to obtain additional vaccine supply for our state, with the understanding that manufacturing is the overall barrier.”

For Chiesa’s part, he’s talking about the way that the state decides how many vaccines go to each county. After healthcare workers were vaccinated, he said allocations should have gone by population or at least factored in agriculture workers and teachers when those categories opened up. 

“I want a fair proportional share of the vaccine so that everyone comes out of this together,” Chiesa said. “California and their 39 million people come out of this together. It’s not one county opening up their economy before Stanislaus does; I want us all to be in the same position. That’s just fair.”

For now, San Joaquin and Stanislaus are looking toward vaccinations for agriculture workers and teachers with limited supply.

“The state has told the public you could get vaccinated if you’re 65, if you’re food and ag, if you’re a teacher, child care worker or law enforcement. And that’s great, but we would like to get enough to actually vaccinate all of those groups,” said Dr. Park. “We don’t have the supply that we would like to have - and we could definitely have - a little more.”

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