Vaccine

A health professional reaches for a handful of syringes during a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Feb. 8 in Nogales.

Health officials are poised to add significant numbers of new community members to the local vaccination pool next week after a long period of primarily giving people their second doses.

“All next week should be all first shots,” County Health Services Director Jeff Terrell said on Thursday, adding that there still will be a handful of exceptions for people who missed or hadn’t previously scheduled a second shot.

Santa Cruz County received 2,800 doses of the two-stage Moderna vaccine this week, and the large majority of those were given to people who received their first shot a month ago. Another 2,800 Moderna vaccines are expected next week, and since they are arriving a month after weather-related shipping delays caused a week-long pause in the local vaccination campaign, they won’t coincide with the four-week mark at which people are given their second dose.

This week, the county also received 600 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines – the first time those had been added to the local allocation – and Terrell said the county has made appointments to administer those on Sunday.

He said people were receptive when they were told they’d receive the Johnson & Johnson shot rather than the Moderna vaccine that has been the staple of the county’s inoculation effort since late last December.

“There’s some people that preferred that, since it’s a one-dose. So there’s no issues with those,” he said of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

However, as of Thursday, the county was not expecting any additional J&J vaccines next week.

People ages 65 to 74 remain the focus of the county’s vaccination effort this week and next, Terrell said. Asked if he thought they’d be able to finish with the 65-plus demographic next week, he said: “I’m not sure we’ll be able to finish it, but it’ll help knock a lot of them off.”

He said next week’s vaccination pool will also include essential workers, who are given appointments regardless of age. Do they expect to prioritize the 55-to-64 age group soon?

“Once we get a better handle on what we have scheduled next week, and what we’ve got left of the 65-to-74-year-olds, we will take a look at that,” Terrell said.

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