Another round of shots at the fairgrounds

Vallejo Times Herald
By Richard Freeman
February 12, 2021

It’s not that 76-year-old Dorlene Harris doesn’t care one way or another if her husband gets her a Valentine’s Day gift Sunday.

“He better get me something,” Harris said, grinning.

However, Harris emphasized that perhaps the best gift available was received Friday — and it was free.

Harris and some 2,000 others in the 75-and-older demographic walked out of the Solano County Fairgrounds clutching their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.

One dose down and a March 12 second dose to go.

“This is good,” Harris grinned, sitting in the 15-minute observation area of Exposition Hall.

Harris urged others to “go get” the vaccine.

“We need to keep on with the mask and other precautions and get the vaccine. It takes a load off your mind,” said Harris.

But really, the best Valentine’s Gift?

“Oh yeah,” Harris said.

Sitting close by was her gal-pal, 91-year-old Jerlene Collins.

“I try to do anything that’s going to help us,” said Collins after getting her shot. “The vaccine is supposed to help us, so I tried.”

A few feet away, Luke Quevado of Medic Ambulance injected the vaccine into the left arm of Esther Lim.

“I’m happy,” Lim said.

Vallejo Firefighter Nick Pond was tickled to help the cause, assisting Kaiser Nurse Aliyya Behles.

“I love it. I think this is a great thing for the county,” Pond said.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m grateful to be able to do this,” Behles said, adding that the seniors are “incredibly grateful. They’re really appreciative of everything we’re doing.”

This weekend’s sequel to last weekend’s fairgrounds debut brings the total to around 5,500 county residents inoculated.

“It’s such a relief to be at the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan. “We have to protect our most vulnerable residents and healthcare workers first. This is how we can vaccinate the most people.”

“One thing we learned last week was that we could do higher volumes if we have the supplies,” said Benjamin Gammon, EMS Coordinator for Solano County.

Gammon said he and the staff learned from last week that more wheelchairs were needed and that patients needed to be dropped off closer to Expo Hall.

“The biggest thing is the flow of traffic. We’re trying to do 45 to 60 people every 15 minutes,” Gammon said, grateful that “we haven’t had any issues (with bad reactions) at any of our clinics.”

There were rumors that 65 and older would get the call on Saturday, but that’s not the case — yet, Gammon said.

“We are so, so close,” he said. “It’s day-by-day. Right now, we’re trying to follow the rules by doing 75 and up.”

Hospitals are starting to accept those 65 and older with pre-existing conditions, Gammon said, encouraging residents to check the Solano County website Tuesday for “next tier” updates.

This Saturday’s registration for vaccinations at the fairgrounds was at capacity by 4 p.m. Friday, said Gammon, encouraging those seeking the vaccine to register online or call (707) 784-8655.

Gammon was impressed with the teamwork of all those involved at the fairgrounds event, including the partnership of Kaiser Permanente, NorthBay Healthcare, Medic Ambulance, Touro University, and Partnership Healthplan of California.

“There’s relief and excitement,” Gammon said of those getting vaccinated, with the staff “feeding off the energy of the people. They’re 100 percent happy to be here.”

The ultimate goal “is to get back to that ‘normal’ that we used to have,” Gammon said, adding that he and the fairgrounds management will likely know Tuesday or Wednesday if the next go at vaccines happens next weekend.

Though there were “no hiccups” at the clinic, “there’s always something to improve,” said Cindy Calvillo of Kaiser Permanente, happy that the event has been “very collaborative.”

There’s a good chance that the days and hours will be extended as more doses become available, Calvillo added.

As of Thursday, the county’s had 29,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Vallejo at 8,640. There have been 140 deaths from COVID-19 in Solano County.

Nationally, 475,224 people have died from the coronavirus with 27.4 million confirmed cases.