BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – During the darkest days of the pandemic, a light at the end of a long tunnel emerges. Today Omni Family Health gave out coronavirus vaccines to one of the groups hit hardest by the virus, taking a major step towards wiping out the pandemic. This comes as 1 out of every 11 people in the county has caught the virus. Meanwhile, hope is on the way for some of the most vulnerable members in the community in the form of a needle. For the first time, members of the public lined up and lifted their sleeves for a potentially life-saving shot.
“We received the news from the state yesterday that we can go ahead and begin vaccinating folks age 65 and older,” said Dr. Grace Tidwell, an Associate Medical Director for Omni Family Health. “We have 20 scheduled this morning, we have more scheduled for this afternoon.”
Dr. Tidwell says the vaccine rollout isn’t as simple as poking patients in the arm.
Vials usually contain 10 doses and they’re only good for six hours after we open them,” said Dr. Tidwell. “So we don’t want to open one if we don’t have those 10 people lined up.”
Planning isn’t the only hurdle at play, as some patients fear side effects from the vaccine.
“This vaccine cannot give you the virus,” said Dr. Tidwell. “It will give you symptoms similar to a virus because it’s priming your immune system. It’s helping you build up that response for when you are exposed to the virus.”
She says immunity kicks in about a month after the second dose, and some patients say this can’t come soon enough.
“I was relieved,” said Raul Alvarez, who received the Moderna vaccine. “And I think, like a lot of folks, concerned that it takes a long time until it takes full effect. I feel grateful I was able to do it on the first day.”
Omni Health joins healthcare providers around the county piercing through the pandemic, one patient at a time.