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County ready to move on mass vaccination site

State officials acknowledged again on Friday that there simply aren’t enough COVID-19 vaccines to go around.

But that doesn’t mean that county officials haven’t been developing plans for when mass vaccination becomes a feasible option.

“The county has been asked multiple times by state agencies to plan for a mass vaccination clinic,” Commissioner Ben Kaferlin said. “Thankfully, Jonie Smitley, our infectious disease consultant, has set up similar clinics so we were able to do them with relative ease.”

“Unfortunately, there’s no glut of vaccine,” he added.

The process for the county has been challenging because of inconsistent messaging from the state.

“True to form, these plans have been ‘hurry up and wait’ scenarios,” Kafferlin said. “We’ve heard nothing new in at least a week — or at least, not since the 200,000 of misallocated vaccines statewide was discovered.”

Department of Health Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Lindsey Mauldin said during a press event Friday that needed second doses from that misallocation are “secure in our allocation plan.”

She said that recent winter storms have delayed vaccine shipping but said that over 2.22 million doses have been given state-wide so far — 1.5 million people have received the first dose and approximately 650,000 have received both doses.

Mauldin said that there “simply is not enough vaccine for everyone who wants it” and that the goal of moving from phase 1A to 1B is summer but that the state is “not putting out estimates at this point.”

Kafferlin took a similar approach.

“At this juncture, I don’t want to give any more false hope or unfulfilled timeline,” he said. “We have been in regular communication with the Department of Health, Governor’s Office and PEMA. Unfortunately, we don’t have any answers.”

Should the state tell the county to mobilize a mass vaccination clinic, Kafferlin said the county “is prepared to accommodate the request within 24 to 48 hours.”

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