MERCED COUNTY, CA – On December 17, 2020, The Merced County Department of Public Health (Department) received the first allocation of COVID-19 vaccine from the California Department of Public Health. As part of receiving the vaccine, local heath jurisdictions are required to comply with the Statewide phased approach of the vaccine distribution matrix.
The State has developed a distribution plan divided into three (3) phases containing tiers representing priority groups. The majority of individuals included in Phase 1A represent healthcare providers and individuals in congregate settings. The County remains in this phase based on the amount of vaccine received. The allocation of vaccine the County has received thus far has been made based on factors such as the number of health care professionals.
To date, the Department has received approximately 6,000 vaccines for a county population of 277,680. All 6,000 vaccines are designated for Phase 1A. The County is designated as a 100 percent Health Provider Shortage area, which means that our average number of health care providers across the board is lower than state average. Due to this, the number of vaccines received has been extremely low. There are more people who need the vaccine based on their tier than the Department has been allocated. The Department is currently advocating for more vaccine and an ongoing higher overall allocation from the State.
Nationally, the demand for vaccine remains very high, the supply is low in addition to other factors required for to conduct vaccine distribution and administration safely, ethically, and efficiently. Federal, State, and Local agencies are coordinating each day, several times each day, with changing information. In addition, the vaccine itself must be controlled and maintained within very strict and complex standards.
As a reminder, it is still a local and statewide mandate to wear a cloth face covering inside of, or in line to enter any indoor public space, or when unable to maintain six feet for social distancing. Merced County health officials strongly urge all residents to exercise the following safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
Practice social distancing
Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds
Use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol base when hand washing is not possible