In addition to health care workers, individuals age 65 and older are now eligible to receive coronavirus vaccinations. Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley is offering vaccinations to seniors and kicked off a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics Saturday.
Overseeing the vaccination clinic is Joshua Pierce, manager of training and development for Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.
In an interview last week, Pierce said there are still kinks to work out in scheduling the clinics partly because the number of promised vaccinations the hospital receives each week fluctuates.
"It changes on an hourly basis," Pierce said.
The hospital first requested 2,000 Moderna vaccinations for last week's clinic. However, it was countered by the state to receive 250, but actually ended up getting 400.
"It is a significant struggle when looking at scheduling," Pierce said. "Ideally, I would like to do this seven days a week, but how can I schedule 100 people every day if the state isn't giving us our allocations?"
Vaccinations are available by appointment only by calling 661-771-8440 or signing up online at kernpublichealth.com and clicking on the link. Adventist Health will host another drive-thru clinic this week. However, it is already booked.
Said Pierce, "I understand the frustration because once people sign up on the online registration process at Kern County Public Health, they expect a call within two minutes, but at the same time, our hospital is getting about 800 calls a day."
In the past three weeks, the online registration site received an additional 5,000 requests.
"Combined, that's almost 6,000 people to get through, and we are getting 400 vaccines a week. What do you do with that?" Pierce said.
Pierce recommends that individuals continue to sign up for the vaccination online to save time in processing via self registration. The hospital will continue to utilize the online link. However, it must be understood that the hospital only learns how many vaccine doses will be available a week at a time.
The good news is that everyone who receives a vaccination will already have their second dose set aside by the hospital so people can receive it on or after 28 days.
Said Pierce, "It does not mean you have to get it exactly on the 28th day. You just can't get it before the 28 days. You can still get it two months after and it will still be effective."
For those who prefer to call and register over the phone, Pierce stressed the importance of speaking clearly when leaving a return telephone number as he has found many calls cannot be returned when phone numbers are missing digits. Some have failed to leave a telephone number entirely, adding to the frustration.
Lewis Brown, 78, said he signed up to receive a vaccination from Adventist Health, and is awaiting a return call.
Brown, who was also vaccinated against flu last September, said he had no reservations being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Judith Campanaro, 74, said she intended to get the vaccine. In fact, she was one of the first to sign up for it in Tehachapi, but her primary care physician advised her to wait due to her underlying medical conditions.
"She said there isn't enough research as to how it affects people with an autoimmune disease. She said she couldn't make the decision for me, but her recommendation was to wait until there is more research," Campanaro said.
Once more research is available, and upon getting the green light from her physician, Campanaro said she will also get the vaccination.
Pat Gracey, 92, said she was once on the fence whether to get the vaccination.
"I think I'm getting off the fence because I'm checking with other people who have had it, including several different walks of life. What I was worried about was the after effects, perhaps it didn't have time to be researched," Gracey said.
After reading an article by a doctor and hearing from seniors who reported only either mild or no vaccine side effects, "I think I'm going to call the number and make an appointment," Gracey said.