Almost 1,600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were distributed to eligible individuals who live or work in Napa County Tuesday morning at the second of two mass vaccination clinics born out of a partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the county.
Around half of those who received their first doses at The CIA at Copia, the latest in Napa County’s continued effort to vaccinate its eligible population, were workers with the county’s food and agriculture sectors, according to a press release.
Napa County contributed around 1,000 doses to the effort, according to County Public Information Officer Janet Upton; Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano contributed the rest, and provided the clinic’s medical staff, Kaiser Public Affairs Manager Stephanie Glaze said.
Kaiser and Napa County also worked closely with the Napa Valley Vintners to find folks available to receive a shot at The CIA at Copia, according to Glaze. Napa County has worked closely with NVV in the past because of the group’s effective outreach to its eligible membership, according to Upton.
NVV President & CEO Linda Reiff said her organization had embarked upon email campaigns and personal phone calls to help fill the slots Tuesday. NVV had also coordinated with Visit Napa Valley to source food service workers, she said. Kaiser Permanente’s Glaze said there had also been direct outreach to individual restaurants and wineries as well as convenience and grocery stores.
“We don’t want any shots to go unused – it was a great community effort,” Reiff said outside of Copia Tuesday.
Wine Educator Karen Hollabaugh, who works at a winery Upvalley, was among the recipients of a shot Tuesday morning. Sitting in the waiting area as a harpist performed, Hollabaugh said the last year had been “really hard on the hospitality industry,” but that businesses were beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel as travel to Napa Valley picked up.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Hollabaugh said. “This is part of (recovery from the pandemic). This is part of having the people coming to Napa Valley feel safe, and we feel safer interacting with people from all over the country again.”
The hospitality and wine industries have taken pointed steps to protect sector workers, according to Michael Kreider, who works for a wine tour company based in the North Bay. Even so, the vaccine is an added layer of protection, and a relief.
“Even though we’ve limited the size of our tours – the same as the wineries have – we still come into contact with people from all over the country,” Kreider said. “So I’m happy to have gotten my first dose, because you never know what variation of this (virus) you’re going to get – whether it’s going to be mild or it’s going to kill you.”
California is set to drastically expand eligibility statewide in coming weeks; state residents 50 years of age or older will be eligible to receive their shots beginning April 1, and residents between the ages of 16 and 50 years old beginning April 15.
Vaccine supply is the biggest obstacle to getting those groups vaccinated, according to Dr. Michael Mason, who oversees geriatrics and continuing care for Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano.
“Even at this particular clinic, we were hoping to do more (shots in arms), but it really depends on the supply we’re getting from the state,” he said. “It does seem like compared to January we’re definitely in a better place, but it’s week by week (that we find out) how much vaccine we’re going to get. So that’s our challenge.”
NVV’s Reiff added she believed Napa County would be ready to expand eligibility; the group plans to survey its members in coming days, Reiff said, but believes that demand for a vaccine among agricultural workers has been “saturated.”
NVV was “scrambling” to find additional farmworkers to vaccinate for Tuesday, Reiff said, adding that efforts across the county have contributed to that success.
Kaiser Permanente has become adept at adjusting the size and scale of its clinics on very short notice, according to Glaze, who noted that Tuesday’s clinic – like a similar clinic held two weeks ago at the Meritage Resort & Spa – had been staffed and fully scheduled in less than 72 hours.
County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, who stopped by the clinic Tuesday, said the county has worked with partners like Kaiser, OLE Health and Adventist Health St. Helena in order to provide community members with “more access points to get vaccinated.”
Kaiser and Adventist Health St. Helena are multi-county entities (MCEs) and currently receive their own allocations of vaccine from the state, Pedroza said. Those entities and Napa County often pool efforts to “augment the pie” of available doses.
Napa County is hopeful it will begin receiving additional supply of doses in coming weeks in tandem with the state’s expansion of ability, he added.
“It’s remarkable,” Pedroza said of Tuesday’s clinic. “This is what we want to see – eligible community members who have expressed interest in receiving a vaccine to have access to it. This is how we’re going to end the pandemic.”
Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination
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