COVID Vaccine

Jae Lee, a registered nurse, prepares a syringe with a dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine at the Salinas Valley Memorial hospital.

It's still a work in progress, but the Monterey County Health Department has launched a Covid-19 vaccination registration site, currently only open to people age 75 and up, as well as health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

All the slots for upcoming clinics scheduled for today, Friday, Sunday and Monday at three hospitals—Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Natividad and Mee Memorial—are currently full.

The website spells out who is eligible and what documentation they must bring with them to prove their eligibility. No proof of immigration status is required.

Those age 75 and older need to bring either a government photo ID, a social security card, medical records, membership in a seniors-only organization or any official document that includes a name and date of birth.

Health care workers must bring an employee badge with photo, or along with a photo ID they may bring a professional license, a letter from an employer on letterhead, or a pay stub. 

The appointments are open to anyone living or working in Monterey County.

The website warns users that the link provided to them is not to be shared with others but apparently the system the county is using, PrepMod, "will provide a misleading option to sign up family. This is absolutely not allowed at this time," the website states.

Another good thing to be aware of is that the appointment system is best used on the Google Chrome browser. There's no information provided about how to make an appointment without a computer.

The website can be accessed by clicking here.

Yesterday, Jan. 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state is close to closing a deal with insurance company Blue Shield of California to administer the state's vaccine distribution system, which has been fraught with challenges since the beginning.

It's been a clunky process getting vaccine doses to the counties, which may only order up to the number the state officials running the system would allot to each one on a weekly basis. That number would change from week to week, making it impossible for health departments like Monterey County's to plan clinics very far out.

Blue Shield will take over that process, managing the flow from when vaccines arrive in the state from the federal government, then out to the counties. (Health care system Kaiser will manage vaccines to its members.)

A new order of who is eligible to be vaccinated is expected to be announced, with age taking priority over employment sector. Details of how it will work have yet to be announced.

State officials said they are looking for a speedier system that prioritizes older residents at highest risk for dying from Covid-19. The announcement has some worried about equity, however, with farmworker groups and advocates for other essential workers concerned workers and people of color at high risk for becoming infected will be made to wait.

A study released by UC San Francisco researchers on Jan. 21 concluded that vaccine distribution should prioritize in-person essential workers, including farmworkers, cooks and others who work in the food industry.

Californian Latinos experienced a 36-percent increase in mortality during the pandemic in 2020, the study found, with a 59-percent increase among Latino food and agriculture workers. 

"Shutdown policies by definition do not protect essential workers and must be complemented with workplace modifications and prioritized vaccine distribution," the researchers stated. "If indeed these workers are essential, we must be swift and decisive in enacting measures that will treat their lives as such."

A UC Berkeley study conducted among farmworkers in the Salinas Valley last year, and which was released in early December, came to similar conclusions about the need to prioritize those workers for vaccinations as well as any action that will protect them in the workplace, including providing services and income support should they need to quarantine or isolate.

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