Two Inland Empire congressmen Monday jointly urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve Riverside County for direct allocations of coronavirus vaccines to bypass the current slow process of distribution.
“Riverside County has received a disproportionately low allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations to date,” said Rep. Darryl Issa, R-Temecula. “I thank my friend, Rep. Ken Calvert, for working together to advocate for Riverside to be included in the federal HRSA program that will help our communities receive their fair share of vaccine doses.”
The Health Resources & Service Administration COVID-19 Vaccination Program involves federal officials shipping the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to local jurisdictions without interference from intermediaries, which in California is the state Department of Public Health.
“We must address the fact that the demand for vaccines in Riverside County among eligible populations continues to outpace supply,” said Calvert, R-Corona. “Rep. Issa and I share the concerns expressed by county officials about the vaccine allocations they are receiving from the state. Getting vaccination doses directly from the federal government would help our under-served residents, while the county attempts to receive a more equitable allocation from the state.”
Riverside University Health System officials have complained that back-ordered doses are not keeping up with demand locally. The ebb and flow of distribution has raised concerns about vaccine recipients staying within the three- to six-week timetable under the two-dose immunization protocol. Some residents have experienced protracted delays in getting their second dose.
A newly a pproved third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose.
According to the congressmen’s joint letter to HHS, neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego counties routinely have received roughly 1,900 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines per 100,000 residents, while Riverside County gets only about 1,050 per 100,000.
Under the CDPH Phase I guidelines, all residents over 65 years old, as well as health care workers, teachers and some agricultural workers, are eligible to receive inoculations.
RUHS officials have expressed hope that a state contract with Blue Shield, announced last month, for management of supplies will improve the distribution process. They’re expected to provide updates Tuesday during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting.