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Teenagers lining up for vaccine

Teenagers lining up for vaccine

NEARLY HALF of eligible residents in Monterey County have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the county health officer reported this week, and many more can now get immunized since the state health agency opened the door Thursday for anyone 16 and older.

Hospitals in Monterey County said teenagers in that category started getting the shot that morning. Salinas resident Ariana Pennise, 16, went with her mom to Salinas Valley Medical Clinic — operated by Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System — early Thursday for the Pfizer version. And just like for everyone else, the vaccine is free for teenagers. “It was a super smooth process and I’m excited to be a part of the solution,” said Pennise, who was among the first teens in the new eligibility tier in Monterey County to get the shot. “It didn’t hurt at all. I’m going to encourage all my friends to get vaccinated, too.”

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula spokeswoman Brenda Moore said the hospital had 1,158 appointments booked for Thursday and Friday for the first dose of the Pfizer shot. “And of those, 76 are for 16- and 17-year-olds,” Moore told The Pine Cone. “Appointment sign-ups and the clinic operations have been steady.” “Vaccine providers in Monterey County have vaccinated about 48 percent of residents, ages 16 and older,” health officer Dr. Ed Moreno told news reporters Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the “vaccine eligibility expansion is a major milestone in our state’s fight against the pandemic and another step on the path to reopening fully in the coming months.”

While about 35,000 vaccinations were administered in Monterey County this week, the health department joined the move to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as recommended by the CDC, over concerns about blood clots. Only six people out of an estimated 7 million who received that manufacturer’s vaccine nationwide were diagnosed with the blood clots. Many no shows Moreno said Wednesday he’s not heard of any problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the county.

While not being able to use it would have “some impact” on the county’s vaccination efforts, he said the Johnson & Johnson accounts for a small percentage of shots here. He would not speculate when the county might get most of the other half of Monterey County’s population immunized, but said the health department still has a “lot of work to do to reach our goal.” “We will continue to tell people about the importance of vaccinations,” he said. Meanwhile, county hospital Natividad Medical Center held a mass vaccination clinic at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas last weekend where it vaccinated 7,899 people over two days.

But 1,380 people who made appointments to get the shot were no shows, which county officials said hinders the vaccination efforts, — though some were offset by walk-ins. “It is imperative that when patients book appointments, they show up” or cancel ahead of time, NMC clinical pharmacy coordinator Shade Alabi told news reporters Wednesday. Alabi said that those who didn’t make their appointments at NMC had likely booked at other vaccination sites, such as pharmacies and clinics. Natividad Medical Center, she said, has seen instances where people have made as many as four appointments because they wanted to make sure they secured a spot.

No shows not only make it difficult for hospitals to prepare for the number of vaccines they need to remove from storage, they can also take away spots that could have been filled by someone else. Moore said CHOMP is experiencing a fair number —10 percent or more — of no shows, which she also blamed on people making multiple appointments.

“As the number of vaccine providers has increased, some people have booked appointments at more than one site, and then didn’t cancel the others,” Moore explained. “Also, the first waves of people were very eager to get vaccinated, and now it may not be as high a priority for some.” The current number of new coronavirus cases per day per 100,000 people in Monterey County is among the lowest in the state at a mere 2.3 — a figure that has not been seen in the county since May 2020.