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When can the general public get a COVID-19 vaccine in Siskiyou County?

Skye Kinkade
Siskiyou Daily News
California Highway Patrol Officer John Golden receives his first dose of the vaccine from Fairchild Medical Center RN Ann-Marie Moser last week in Yreka.

Many first responders were able to get a COVID-19 vaccine last week at Fairchild Medical Center, and for those employees who received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine when it first became available last month, second doses were expected to arrive on Monday.

It's still unclear when the general public may be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, although Siskiyou County Public Health did provide a tiered plan that shows that some residents at higher risk of the virus could begin getting vaccinated on Jan. 25.

Who’s getting the vaccine now

According to the health department, vaccines are currently being administered to people most vulnerable to COVID-19. This includes healthcare workers; those at skilled nursing facilities; first responders; those in home health care and in-home supporting services; community health workers; public health’s field staff; those who work at primary care clinics; lab workers; dental and oral health clinic workers; and pharmacy staffs.

Perhaps as early as Monday, Jan. 25, those 75 and older, as well as food and agriculture workers; those in education and childcare; and those who are 65-74 with underlying health conditions, as well as incarcerated people and others with essential jobs in a number of categories will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the county's plan.

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At this time, appointments are not being scheduled and there is no further information available beyond what is listed on the county’s plan, according to public health's Facebook page, where they are disseminating local information.

An email requesting more information about the county’s plan, how many vaccines Siskiyou County has been allocated and when the general public may be able to get their vaccine was not returned by the Siskiyou County Public Health Department.

‘That’s it?’

Fairchild began administering the Moderna vaccine to local first responders the first week of the new year and by the end of the day on Friday, Jan. 8 all 810 doses of vaccine that were allocated to the hospital (600 doses of Moderna and 210 Pfizer-BioNTech) had been given, according to a press release from the hospital.

“I feel very honored to be part of the vaccine rollout to our team and our first responders,” said RN Ann-Marie Moser, Fairchild’s vaccine coordinator and ICE/ED manager. “They do so much for us and I am grateful to be able to help them with this.” 

Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta will begin administering the second doses of the Pfiszer vaccine to their employees this week. Although the vaccine is not mandatory, it’s being offered to all hospital staff.

“The COVID-19 vaccines currently available have been shown to be safe and effective and we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they can,” said Mercy spokesperson Allison Hendrickson. “To date we have already vaccinated hundreds of our employees and the process ... will continue for the next several weeks.”

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Hendrickson said she understands some people may have questions about the new vaccines “and we are doing everything we can to share data and evidence showing that the vaccines are safe and effective.”

At Fairchild, the process to receive a COVID-19 vaccine takes less than five minutes, the hospital reported. Nursing staff reviews the required paperwork with the recipients, checks each person’s information, answers any questions or concerns they have, and then administers the vaccine. 

Most recipients have commented, “that’s it?” a Fairchild spokesperson said.

The longest part of receiving the vaccine comes after the dose has been given. Recipients are required to stay 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to be monitored by an FMC healthcare provider for any signs of an allergic reaction. Those with a history of allergic response are required to stay 30 minutes, according to the press release.

Two doses are required

Siskiyou County first responders who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine will return to Fairchild to receive their second dose the week of Feb. 1. 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, after which trials have shown an effectiveness of 95%. 

“Fairchild Medical Center continues to work closely with Siskiyou County Public Health to identify priorities of those to receive the vaccine,” according to the hospital’s press release. “It is unknown as to when the general population might be able to expect to receive the vaccine at Fairchild Medical Center.”

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.