Vaccine photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Written by Breanna Hardy
Fresno County is fighting against the coronavirus Delta variant with vaccination events in parks around the area.
The Fresno County Department of Public Health is taking walk-up vaccinations at the so-called “Vaxtravaganza” events through the end of the month. Individuals will have the choice between Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to accommodate for different age groups. Approval has been granted for Pfizer for 12-year-olds and up, and Johnson & Johnson is still limited to 18 years or older.
The goal is to get the whole family out, said Deputy Superintendent for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Hank Gutierrez.
There are seven Vaxtravaganza events across seven parks — Holmes Neighborhood Center (July 19), Dickey Park (July 22), Romain Neighborhood Center (July 24), Ted C. Willis Park (July 26), Frank H. Ball Park (July 28), Calwa Park (July 30) and Fink-White Park (July 31). Each event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include music, entertainment, free food distribution and $20 gift cards for the first 25 people who receive a vaccine.
The County is partnering with UCSF Fresno to carry out this part of the Covid Equity Project, a partnership between several community-based organizations and the health department to reach underserved communities for a more equitable health standard.
The increased vaccination effort comes as the number of Delta variant cases are steadily rising, although the exact numbers are staggered behind by two weeks.
“We know that case rates overall are rising across the state. We also know that the Delta variant is causing a lot more infections and even hospitalizations in counties across the state,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for Fresno County.
Case rates in general are rising. Vohra said that less than 1% of cases were positive, and now it’s around 3.4%. In some counties across the state, it’s as high as 10%, which Vohra says is worrisome.
“As that test positivity goes up, that’s just one more marker that things are kind of sliding in the wrong direction,” he said.
Right now, the state is only testing select positive cases. The County is prioritizing individuals who have been hospitalized or those who have a breakthrough infection.
“Basically they’re doing a random sampling of positives, and then telling us that there’s Delta cases whenever those come back in,” he said.
“I understand that this is raising a lot more questions than we have answers to,” Vohra said.
The health department is not officially mandating masks for vaccinated individuals, but Vohra says it’s a smart idea.
“It’s all about the vaccines, folks. These are really good medications, they are helping to protect the vast majority of our population who have them from landing in the hospital,” he said.