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Vaccine town hall attendance shows how many people are clamoring to be vaccinated. 

Good afternoon. 

It was almost 24 hours ago that I, Pam Marino, experienced a slight moment of panic. I tried logging into the Monterey County Covid-19 vaccine town hall Zoom meeting and was blocked because they had exceeded their 500-participant limit.

I jumped over to the Monterey County YouTube page, and found the meeting there. Other people scrambled over to the Health Department’s Facebook page. Behind the scenes, the county’s public information officers were bumping up the county’s Zoom subscription to 5,000. 

In the end, 514 people participated on Zoom, according to Communications Coordinator Maia Carroll. Nearly 400 people like me watched on YouTube and 222 people watched on the Monterey County Health Department Facebook page. Others watched on livestreams provided by local TV news websites. (You can see a replay on YouTube here.)

That well over 1,000 people tuned in to hear county officials explain what’s happening with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout underscored how many people are clamoring to be vaccinated. 

Really, people are anxious for a return to something closer to a normal life, the life we were living in the Before Times: going to work, dining in restaurants, going to festivals and concerts, hanging out with friends and family. All without masks and especially without fear.

The county received more than 200 advance questions, according to Monterey County Health Department Director Elsa Jimenez, who served as moderator of the town hall. 

The top question: “When can I be vaccinated?” Unfortunately, there is no immediate answer for most of us and it’s not the county’s fault. 

The two Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in use are limited. This morning The Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration officials behind Operation Warp Speed promised states they’d be releasing more of the vaccine in the coming weeks. Only it turns out there was no more in the inventory to release.

Gee, thanks. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. 

President-elect Joe Biden has promised that’s going to change. This afternoon he said his administration is retiring the name “Operation Warp Speed” and will do all it can to ramp up vaccine production. He earlier said he wanted 100 million shots in people’s arms in the first 100 days in office.

As frustrated as people are with the county for not moving faster with vaccinations, Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno is taking a prudent approach in the face of limited supplies.

Last night he said the county is not going to start vaccinating people 65 and up as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, because whatever is left of the 24,150 doses the county received is committed to health care workers in Phase 1a, tiers 1, 2 and 3 who have vaccination appointments. (The county has an estimated 22,000 health care workers.)

We don’t know the exact number of vaccine doses that are left because the California Inoculation Registry isn’t accurately reporting the county’s numbers yet. It could be approximately 12,500 doses remaining, around half. 

It’s just another example of how rocky the rollout the vaccines has been for the country, state and county. Stay tuned for more on that—my cover story next Thursday will look at some of the challenges.

The story will also include a list of questions sent in by readersThere’s a preview of questions and answers already up on our blog. If you have more questions, send them my way and I’ll work on getting answers.

-Pam Marino, staff writer,

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