Vaccine supply still limited, challenges arise with registration

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — During the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, officials discussed vaccine distribution and allotment.

To date the county has received 38,000 doses of the vaccine, and of that, 23,000 vaccines have been administered and the remaining 15,000 have been earmarked for current and upcoming appointments.

Red Hawk Casino in Placerville has been administering about 900 doses at a time during their weekly clinics. Residents have been receiving their second dose of the vaccine at the clinic.

“We are catching up on that second dose that so many of our residents need before we go into some focus on the first dose,” said El Dorado County Communications Director Carla Hass.

The public health clinic in South Lake Tahoe has been administering vaccines three times a week that comes out to about 300 vaccines a week, the one in Placerville is administering about 600 a week.

The county still has not heard back from the governor’s office regarding its request for increased vaccine allotment.

“There continues to be a lot of frustration over the fact that people cannot get registered because again, we are not getting the supply of vaccine that we need,” said Hass. “We just don’t have the supply to meet the demand.”

Statewide, the biggest constraint continues to be a lack in manufactured supply of the vaccine according to Gov. Gavin Newsom during a press conference on Tuesday, but added that California will be receiving more in the coming days.

“We are not unique in this frustration [vaccine supply], but it doesn’t make it any easier,” said District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel on Tuesday.

Hass said one of the complications is that the state will open other priority populations before supply of vaccine is more readily available.

“Coming next month is another group of 16, 65 year-olds with underlying conditions that will now be prioritized,” Hass said. “We are looking at more mass vaccination opportunities in South Lake Tahoe specifically and expanding the Red Hawk Casino availability to more than once a week.”

Novasel introduced another issue during the meeting. She said there have been seniors coming to South Lake Tahoe to get their vaccines when the city doesn’t have the same allotment of vaccine as the West Slope.

Out of the total allotment for the county, about 73% of the vaccine has been allocated to the West Slope and 23% has been allocated to South Lake Tahoe.

“It is frustrating for all of us because with such limited supply we don’t have some of the resources on the West Slope,” Novasel said. “It has been especially difficult for seniors in snowbound areas.”

A Tahoma resident told the Tribune that second homeowners are getting the vaccine in South Lake Tahoe versus where their full time residence is, or where they vote.

Hass says the county is aware, but there is not much they can do about it.

“If they have an EDC address, they’re able to schedule an appointment,” Hass said in an email. “It’s such a small number, in all likelihood, that it shouldn’t impact our allocation. That said, by doing so, these people are being vaccinated before someone who technically, fully qualifies.”

The county’s website states that proof of residency in El Dorado County, employment status in El Dorado, or age may be required at time of appointment, however, people are not always asked for ID unless they appear underage or are a health care worker.

“While we clearly hope people will play by the rules and get vaccinated in the time and place that’s appropriate for their eligibility based on the state’s construct, we know some people will find a way to game the system,” Hass said. “This is unfortunate for those who are waiting their turn, but we don’t have reason to believe it is widespread.”

The county vaccine allotment for South Lake Tahoe is 23% and does succeed the region’s population that makes up about 14% of the county.

“The county’s total allocation seems at least fair, if not more than fair,” said Hass.

The county continues to prioritize seniors in vaccine distribution.

About 57% of the administered vaccines have gone to those 65 and older, 23% have gone to those in the 18-49 age group based on eligibility according to the states vaccine distribution phases, and 19% have gone to those between the ages of 50-64.

“It is important to know that more than half [of administered vaccines] are seniors,” Hass said.

Hass said that there have been 300 less calls than last week regarding seniors needing help signing up for the vaccine.

“Things are becoming a little more easy, intuitive and people in the community are helping seniors,” she said.

Hass urges the community to continue helping seniors navigate how to sign up for the vaccine.

There is a new system recently introduced by the state, MyTurn, which helps notify people about when they are eligible and an appointment is available.

“We are aware there have been challenges with MyTurn,” said Hass.

The county is unable to manage or change the site due to it being managed by the state.

While the system has had glitches, the county has been working with the state to try and smooth them out.

The website will soon have a “help-line” to assist people with the page. Also, registration for upcoming clinics will open one week in advance as supply is available.

For more information to get vaccinated or to see if you are eligible visit https://www.edcgov.us/Government/hhsa/Pages/EDCCOVID-19-clinics.aspx.

To sign up for MyTurn, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/.