CALIFORNIANS EXPRESS CONCERNS OVER VACCINE DISTRIBUTION
One of the biggest concerns KCRA 3 keeps hearing from Californians is in relation to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
From the health care perspective, the current speed that vaccination doses are being administered is to be expected, according to KCRA 3 News.
"We in local public health are realistic," said Dr. Bela Matyas, Health Officer for Solano County. "We know what it takes to put on mass vaccination campaigns and how to deal with this."
Dr. Matyas says part of the problem is that some California politicians are creating unrealistic timelines. "The expectation is, in many ways, very naive," said Dr. Matyas.
In an interview with KCRA 3's Brittany Johnson, the health officer said he isn't sure if concerns addressed by healthcare officials are being heard. "People who are pushing this effort forward at the political level have a narrative. The narrative is that they want to get vaccine out quickly. They want to be able to end this, this war on this virus, and it's a narrative that resonates with most people," Dr. Matyas said.
"And so that narrative is already out there and you can't pull it back because it's already out there. Pointing out that that it's unrealistic has mostly resulted in people saying, 'well, you're just making excuses.' Well, no, we're giving explanations. The truth is what the truth is. Have we tried to temper those expectations? Of course, we have, because, you know, we're trying to keep it as real as we can for people. But at the same time, this is a good problem to have. The fact that people are frustrated at the pace of distribution means people want to be vaccinated," he said.
Dr. Matyas says everyone needs to understand that there's only so much vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna to go around. "You have to remember that they're supplying the entire world with vaccine," Dr. Matyas explained.
"Obviously we want more, we asked for more," he added. "But it's not something that we can just go and do. It's you know, it's not there, it's not there."
Last week, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced people 65 and older could get vaccinated, Dr. Matyas says it sent health care agencies scrambling. He told KCRA 3 that Newsom promised Californians something some health departments aren't able to deliver.
"The governor and the state health officer both made a promise that they can't keep. There isn't enough vaccine for us to be doing 65 and over right now," he said. According to Matyas, California needs consistency and said the state should stick to the set of tiers it originally came up with, which identified who's most important to get vaccinated first and then work down the chain.
"Politically, people are putting a lot of pressure on decision-makers, and they're influencing that. Over the past month, there's been constant jumping of tiers by groups of people where sometimes it doesn't even make sense why they would jump a tier," he said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, the Solano County Health Officer says relief is rolling out, but he asks people to still do their part. "I understand we're more than a year into social distancing and the impact of this disease on our lives. It's really, really difficult to keep doing that but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If we can continue to be diligent and careful for a few more months as a community, we will have emerged on the other end of that with a highly vaccinated population."
In a statement to KCRA 3, the California Department of Public Health said in response:
“Counties are given the freedom to make decisions that reflect that counties’ priorities. Vaccine supply is limited in every county, in every state, in every country. We look forward to collaborating with Solano County to equitably and efficiently distribute vaccines. With many of the state's hospitals full, the state prioritized individuals 65 and older to help reduce the strain on the healthcare system."
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