CALIFORNIA CITY — Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley made its first rounds through Eastern Kern County communities last week, providing COVID-19 vaccines for 80 people a day.
The mobile clinic, a partnership between Adventist Health and Kern County Public Health Services Department, was established as a way to provide the vaccine to residents otherwise unable to travel to Tehachapi or Bakersfield.
Kern County signed a $300,000 agreement with the hospital on Feb. 9 through at least May 31. Vaccines will come from Adventist’s allotment, not from the county’s own supply.
The clinic traveled to Boron, Mojave, California City and Rosamond. In California City, residents who had appointments trickled in to receive their vaccine shot. Residents then sit under a shade structure or in their vehicles for approximately 15 minutes as part of the proper procedure to observe whether they suffered from adverse effects.
“We are going to be doing this weekly for the next several months,” said Josh Pierce, manager of training and development, as he prepared syringes of the vaccine Friday morning. “We are the only rural provider doing the vaccine right now.”
Adventist Health will be providing vaccines to those who make appointments, within the Kern County and the state’s current blueprint.
“We are not accepting walk-ups,” Pierce said. Registration for appointments are being done through Kern County’s online service or by calling 661-771-8400.
Eventually, the county will transition its appointment system to the state’s third-party system, myturn.ca.gov. For now, however, the MyTurn system will only apply to those using the county’s mass vaccination site at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, and then only for who fall in the Phase 1a of the vaccination schedule.
While an average of 80 shots were provided in the first week, Pierce said the hospital expects to increase the number in the coming weeks.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” Pierce said. “If you think about it, this week between the hospital and mobile clinic, we were giving 886 shots — with the mobile clinic we are giving 568 shots in six days.”
Laura Lynn Wyatt, field representative for Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, during a virtual meeting with the Rosamond Municipal Advisory council on Feb. 18, said the mobile clinic could theoretically provide more shots in a day.
“Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley has the capability of doing 1,000 vaccines a day in a mobile unit, but the supply is not there right now to handle that,” she said. “So we anticipate over the next month or two to grow rapidly and increase those numbers.”
The mobile clinic spent two days in Rosamond, and a day each in Cal City, Mojave and Boron.
“We intend in the next week to do 100 people a day,” Pierce said.
He said the mobile clinic was using the Moderna version of the COVID-19 vaccine, but will transition to Pfizer. Both vaccines require an additional shot after the first one is received, scheduled several weeks later.
“It is very important to keep your appointment,” Pierce said.
Pierce said the mobile clinic’s schedule in a particular community depends on the appointment system in a given week. People can best keep track of it by keeping on top of their vaccination appointment.
“We will be taking care of East Kern for quite a while,” he said. “We will be here every week.”