Eligibility is one thing. But availability is another.

Yes, Tulare County Health and Human Services continues to expand those who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to sign up to be vaccinated to meet state guidelines. But those who are 65 and older are still having to wait for the supply to catch up to the demand before they can be vaccinated.

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new guidelines making those 65 and older eligible to be vaccinated. But Tulare County still hasn't received enough vaccines to vaccinate all of its residents who are 75 and older.

And all of the vaccines so far are still going to all those in the health profession who are in Phase 1A. The health department did send out a notification those who are 65 and older are now eligible to receive the vaccine.

Those who are eligible to receive the vaccine can sign up to receive it here: https://bit.ly/35DZe4f But those 65 and older will still have to wait before they can be vaccinated.

Tulare County Health and Human Services spokesperson Carrie Monteiro said the county will move on to vaccinating those 75 and older once Phase 1A is completed. Those 75 and older are in tier 1 of Phase 1B.

Essential workers such as those in the ag and food industry, including farmworkers, education and child care and emergency services are also in tier 1 of Phase 1B. Those ages 65 and older are in tier 2 in Phase B, but again Newsom announced the policy on Wednesday those 65 and older were now immediately eligible.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Governor Newsom stating the eligibility of farmworkers should be a high priority, but again the bottom line is right now there just aren't enough vaccines available to meet the demands of such a large group of people who are considered essential and vulnerable.

Monteiro noted Tulare County has a population of 25,000 of those 75 and older but as of Friday hadn't even received 25,000 vaccines. “The vaccine is very, very limited,” Monteiro said.

“But more is coming,” added Monteiro, commenting the supply will eventually come closer to meeting the demand.

“We want to vaccinate as many as our supply can handle,” Monteiro said. “We ask the public to be patient with us. We are working to vaccinate all the people that are eligible.”

Monteiro said those who are eligible who sign up will be notified when they can be vaccinated. She said the county is working on scheduling vaccination appointments based on availability.

She also said the county's plans to offer “mass” vaccination sites such as Porterville College, Visalia's International Ag Center and Tulare's International Ag Center will also depend on availability.

The county is using its general information number 211 on COVID-19 to direct those who are seeking information on vaccines. Tulare County's website on vaccines can be found at https://covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

Those who want notifications on when they would be eligible for a vaccine can sign up at https://arcg.is/0KKez4

It should be noted the website contains the numeral zero and not a capital O.

Medically trained volunteers who want to assist in the administration of vaccines can visit https://bit.ly/3nF2Pp8 Others who want to help with the vaccination effort can visit https://bit.ly/38D21fY

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