Breanna Hardy">

Gov. Gavin Newsom is flanked by Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Joe Prado with Fresno County's health department during a Feb. 10 appearance in Fresno. Photo by Breanna Hardy

published on February 10, 2021 - 2:29 PM
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Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference at the Fresno Fairgrounds Wednesday for an anticipated announcement about a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) vaccination site in Fresno. But after buzz about its potential, there are still no final answers.

The Save Mart Center has been scouted as a potential site, but after the state helped establish two FEMA sites in Los Angeles and Oakland, the Central Valley must wait even longer.

“We are committed to working with the Biden administration to land on a date, because I know you want a date for when we have a mass vaccination site here in the Valley – and a location. When we have that information, I’ll provide it,” Newsom said.

Although the Valley waits on a mass vaccination site, it’s making progress.

Joe Prado, community development manager for the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH), hoped to hear more about the FEMA site.

“You know, I was definitely hoping to see an announcement,” said Prado.

While there is discussion about prioritizing Fresno County on the city and state levels, there’s no date to back it up.

“I think Fresno County – the region – is definitely in the works, it’s just a matter of when,” Prado said.

Prado said that 94,000 doses have been administered so far.

In the last week, the number of delivered doses has significantly increased from 8,000 to 19,000, which will help the Valley demonstrate its capability to handle a FEMA site.

FCDPH leaders hope that in the future, vaccines can be delivered on a monthly – rather than weekly – allotment. Both Prado and Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra have discussed planning difficulties given the vaccine’s two-dose requirement over about four weeks.

A new vaccination site at Reedley College will help distribute more vaccine, Prado said. It’s currently an OptumServe testing site – one of 20 across the state – which will convert to a vaccine site.

“It’ll be a walk-up site. We’re planning for 600 doses a week,” Prado said. “Really excited about getting that going next week.”

Prado said the county is still working out logistics for a specific date.

Gov. Newsom stated over chants of protestors seeking his recall that the Central Valley has always been, and will continue to be, a priority.

Elected officials reiterated that progress is being made.

Prado said health and equity factors have had their challenges in Fresno County, but he said, “We’re demonstrating to the state, and we’re demonstrating to our community, that we can get vaccines out in an efficient and effective manner. And I think that’s going to carry us through as the state considers the allocation formula and future situations.”

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