A cooperative effort involving Sonoma County Winegrowers, Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Farm Bureau, local community health centers including the West County Health Center, the Sonoma Valley Health Center, the Alliance Medical Center, Alexander Valley Health Care, and the Sonoma County Medical Association has resulted in to get thousands of COVID-19 vaccination doses to these agricultural and production workers throughout the region, the groups announced.
In the Media
Any significant effort to bring the vaccine to disadvantaged populations is now being hampered by the sluggish allotment of doses coming into the county. That means most vials are currently being reserved for second doses, making it hard for vaccinators to expand their campaign to groups that haven’t already been addressed.
“Ken (Tasseff) is saying we’re making up that gap by 1% a day,” said Jason Cunningham, CEO of West County Health Centers. “But it’s stalled. We only have two vaccination clinics next week.”
Cunningham cautions against reading too deeply into the county’s ZIP code data, arguing there are significant lags in updating the information, which comes from the California Immunization Registry. Tasseff said the county vaccine dashboard should be an accurate reflection, since the data set is updated daily.
There are other anomalies in the ZIP code chart that go beyond class inequities. For example, the lowest vaccination rate in Sonoma County can be found in 94515, the hilly area near Calistoga at the eastern fringe of the county. Only 13.4% of residents there have gotten a dose. Annapolis is second lowest at 20.9%. Most chalk up those poor rates to remoteness.
Many health professionals and others eager to assist the local response to the pandemic have volunteered directly with local health care organizations that include the West County Health Centers.
“Within the first two weeks, we had over 300 volunteers sign up,” said Dr. Rain Moore, chief medical officer of the nonprofit, Guerneville-based health agency.
“Our volunteers have been essential to the whole thing, every step,” said Moore, who oversaw a vaccination clinic Saturday at Guerneville School, and the day before was among the West County Health Centers staffers and volunteers who administered vaccines to 495 people at Analy High School in Sebastopol.
Volunteers with West County Health Centers are greeting and registering the people to be vaccinated, administering shots, monitoring those who were vaccinated for adverse reactions, even visiting homebound seniors to vaccinate them.
“One hundred percent,” said Moore. “We could not do it without them.”
West County Health Centers (WCHC) recently pivoted toward scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations through direct outreach instead of open self-registration to effectively prioritize groups most at-risk.
As of Feb. 24, WCHC has conducted 5,600 vaccinations since they began, counting 313 second doses, and will deliver 3,200 doses this week if the supply allows, a press release from WCHC said.
The state’s move to integrate Blue Shield as its third-party administrator for vaccine distribution also led to the switch to direct outreach. WCHC is testing out Blue Shield’s appointment tool, MyTurn, this week and will start up with Blue Shield alongside Sonoma County’s other federally qualified health centers on March 7, the press release said.
Jason Cunningham, a doctor and WCHC’s chief executive officer, said the center made the shift last Wednesday, when they would normally post appointment openings for the upcoming Monday through Saturday after receiving their vaccine shipments from Sonoma County.
“This effort in Sonoma County should be the model for the nation in how to organize and vaccinate essential ag and production workers,” said Dr. Jason Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer at West County Health Centers. He added, ”We have succeeded because of the tremendous collaboration throughout the community from people and organizations who share one focus to quickly and efficiently immunize our essential food and agricultural workers to reduce their risk of becoming ill.”
West County Health Centers is taking an approach similar to Sutter’s. Chief Executive Jason Cunningham said the nonprofit is short three boxes of vaccine doses this week. They have been administering roughly 250 first doses a day at their clinics at Analy High School and Guerneville School, and were set to add 250 second doses to that this week.
“Instead, we are only vaccinating the 250 second doses and holding on to new doses until we get assurance of sufficient supply,” Cunningham said.
West County Health Centers is vaccinating about 250 people a day at clinics at Guerneville School and Analy High School. The health center is reserving about 50 slots daily for food production and ag workers.
In a couple weeks, the health center hopes to double its vaccine supply and then inoculate 500 people a day, including 100 vulnerable essential workers, said Jason Cunningham, CEO of West County Health Centers.
To attract that number of people for shots, the organization plans to rely on its relationships with community organizations and businesses, Cunningham said.
“It’s not just us doing it ourselves, we’re partnering with others,” he said, citing Graton Day Labor Center and Korbel Winery, among others.
Vaccines Going Local – Sonoma County
ABC 7 News with Wayne Freedman interviews Dr. Rain Moore at West County Health Centers Community Vaccination Site at Analy High School on Monday, February 8th, 2021 for the evening news.
“We’re leveraging deep relationships in our community, working with businesses to bring workers into those sites, working with churches,” said Dr. Jason Cunningham, CEO of West County Health Centers. “We’re finally getting our systems in place to be able to act locally with equity as a driving principle.”
On Friday, West County Health Centers held a vaccine clinic at Guerneville School for people 75 and older, health care workers and farmworkers, including dozens who labor in the vineyards.
Key players in the county’s effort to get more vaccine doses into the arms of essential workers are community health centers, a robust network of primary care providers that for decades have served low-income residents, many of them Latino.
“For example, West County Health Centers is now providing vaccine to individuals performing agriculture, farm and field work collecting and processing agriculture products including dairy, egg, poultry, and meat production, as well as individuals involved in the production of food or beverages including wineries and distilleries. This does not include administrative or sales staff within these industries,” Hopkins said.