BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Incoming vaccines offer hope during the darkest days of the pandemic. The CDC announced today that everyone 65 years or older and those with compromised immune systems should be eligible for a shot. However, the rollout is running behind schedule around the nation. Local hospitals say the task is proving to be a marathon rather than a sprint, even when they have an ample supply of vaccines.
“We have opened it up to all of the folks that have frontline exposure,” said Kiyoshi Tomono, the Community Action Partnership Executive for Adventist Health Bakersfield. “Everybody who wants to get it in our facility can get it.”
Adventist Health reports it’s vaccinated about half of its staff in Kern County. Tomono says logistics like storage and scheduling slow down distribution, but that’s not the only roadblock. He says less than half of Adventist Health workers wanted a vaccine.
“We’ve always faced questions from what we call ‘anti-vaxxers.'” said Tomono. “With the advent of social media some of these conspiracy theories start getting some play they didn’t get in years past.”
Tomono says fear of the vaccine doesn’t line up with the facts.
“They didn’t skip steps, this was passed through a rigorous process, and it’s safe,” said Tomono. “So these folks are hearing the word of mouth and acceptance is growing.”
He says protection from the virus is worth a couple pokes in the arm.
“My arm was sore for two days. I have anecdotally heard that the second dose people tend to feel the effects a little bit more,” said Tomono. “That’s an encouraging sign. So your body is prepared and ready for the COVID virus if you ever do get exposed.”
Meanwhile Dignity Health, which operates Memorial and Mercy hospitals, says it expects just over half of its workers to opt into a vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci says at least 80% of people need to take it to wipe out the pandemic. Infectious disease experts say getting a vaccine when it’s your turn can help you save lives.