Vaccine eligibility expands in Kern County, but less people are signing up


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Kern Public Health announced this morning that anyone age 16 and older is now able to get vaccinated. We’re one of the first counties to enable this. It’s big news that will hopefully clear up confusion around vaccine eligibility.

68-year-old Rhonda Monson has pulmonary fibrosis, which later caused lung damage. By definition, she’s among the most vulnerable people in this pandemic.

“It just made me angry that some people are willing to risk, when they’re partying, willing to risk my life,” said Rhonda Monson, a retired registered nurse.

Monson used to be a registered nurse, but retired long before the pandemic began.

“I saw a lot of death and dying,” Monson said. “If you can prevent it, those are preventable deaths.”

She recently got her second dose of the vaccine, and hopes her grandchildren will be able to get it too.

“I hope everybody that could get it can get it,” Monson said. “Because if we can get more and more people vaccinated, maybe we won’t lose another 500,000 people.”

Anyone aged 16 and older can now receive the vaccine. That adds more than 165,000 people to the list of those eligible.

“This is it, this is everyone,” said Michelle Corson with Kern Public Health. “So I think that’s the message we want to send our residents: it’s easy now.”

The first phases of the vaccine rollout took a few months to complete. But Kern Public Health says recent changes by the governor sped up the process.

“What has happened as each of these tiers have begun to open, it changed,” Corson said. “And how they were doing the original vaccine administration, they changed it.”

Still, only 12.7 percent of Kern County is vaccinated. Public Health says less people are signing up.

“Last week was really a turning point in Kern County where we started seeing appointments fill at a slower rate,” Corson said.

Public Health hopes as eligibility continues to expand, people will be encouraged to get vaccinated.

“There have been some trials going on for the vaccine to be administered to younger than the age of 16,” Corson said. “If and when that occurs, we’ll be reevaluating at that time and seeking state guidance.”

If you have any questions or want to schedule your vaccine appointment, you can call the Public Health Call Center at 661-321-3000.

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