Kern County is partnering with Adventist Health Tehachapi to establish a mobile coronavirus vaccination unit initially targeting rural areas of eastern Kern.
At Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors approved a $300,000 contract with the health care provider in an agreement that can bring 80 doses of vaccine per day to areas of the county that have previously had limited access. Importantly, Adventist Health will obtain the vaccines from the state itself, raising the overall supply in Kern during a time when strict caps have been placed on counties.
“The most important feature in my mind is that this agreement actually increases the number of doses available that we have available to us to distribute to residents here in Kern,” Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop told supervisors on Tuesday during the meeting. “This is not part of the pool of supply that we receive directly from the state, which… is extremely limited by the thousands a day. We could be doing thousands more a day if we had the supply.”
Beginning with a Monday stop at the Rosamond Public Library, the mobile health clinic will make expected stops in areas like California City, Boron and Mojave before moving to the Ridgecrest area.
“We are really seeing a lot of people are driving at great lengths to have access to the vaccine,” said Joshua Pierce, manager of training and development at Adventist Health Tehachapi.
He noted that people 80 to 90 years old have driven up to an hour for a vaccine dose, which can be a struggle for someone in that age range. In addition, Kern County residents are also competing with those from across California, who have been known to drive across county lines for a vaccine.
“However, with this mobile vaccine, we have shifted to providing the vaccine to Kern County residents,” Pierce said.
Supervisors approved the agreement 4-0, with Supervisor Zack Scrivner abstaining due to a potential conflict of interest. Running from Tuesday through May 31, the clinic is expected to operate seven days a week.
“I think this is a tremendous effort,” said Supervisor Phillip Peters. “I know that there is a lot of concern from some communities in eastern Kern — they are a little more remote — about access to vaccines, so I think this is going to be a critical component to make sure they receive that.”
To schedule an appointment with the mobile clinic, call 771-8400.
Kern County Public Health Services has more information on other vaccination sites at kernpublichealth.com/coronavirus-vaccine/.
An interactive map on the website indicates other health care providers who can schedule appointments for vaccinations.