San Luis Obispo County is facing a shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine, and public health officials said because of that, the Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande vaccination sites will be closed this week.
400-600 people have been getting an initial vaccine at the Paso Robles clinic on a daily basis. On a tour of the facility Friday, Josh Taylor with the SLO County Incident Management Team said while county staff can easily handle doing 1,000 a day at this location, they are at the mercy of the state in terms of supply.
"We keep asking, and we just haven’t received it so this is...we get what we get,” Taylor said Friday.
Because the state’s allocation was not as large as expected this week, the county isn’t taking any new first time appointments for the week of Feb. 8-12. But Taylor said people can get the vaccine from other sites, such as Alberton's grocery stores and SLO's French Hospital.
“Ultimately, that would be ideal because we could take some of this workload off of us," Taylor said. Plus, those places are more familiar, he said.
"That’s what people are used to doing, because this can be a little daunting to come through [the county's clinic] if you’re not used to it,” said Taylor.
Going through the county clinic has multiple steps—from checking in and verifying you’re a county resident with an appointment, then on to paperwork, then a medical check, then the vaccine and finally ending in a 15-30 minute rest area to monitor any reactions to the shot.
Charles Brown with CalFire said so far, only one person has had a negative reaction in SLO County.
“In the 6,500 doses that we’ve given here, we’ve only had one anaphylactic reaction and it was a mild allergic reaction,” Brown said.
The vaccines are stored in a closely-monitored refrigerator. Grant Frempter is one of the staff members who hands the doses off to be administered. He said at first, it was intimidating since he knows how valuable every vial is.
“At times, I guess you feel like you’re pulling it out and it’s like a bomb that you’re holding," Frempter said. "But once you get over that, it’s just something you deal with as a job.”
County officials said they will keep asking the state for more vaccines, and are hopeful that soon they’ll be able to administer up to the clinics’ potential.