(Photo via Torsten Simon/Pixabay)

Monterey County won’t achieve COVID-19 herd immunity via vaccine until September 2023 if the number of vaccine doses it receives per week remains stagnant, the county’s public health officer said Tuesday.

The county is currently receiving between 2,000 and 4,000 doses per week, health officer Dr. Edward Moreno told the county’s Board of Supervisors.

Multi-county health care systems like Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health are not included in that number, he added, as they receive vaccine doses to distribute statewide rather than individual clinics receiving direct shipments.

Moreno estimated the county will need roughly 514,000 doses of the vaccines that are currently available, which require two doses to take effect, to achieve herd immunity just among the county’s adult population.

Another 80 percent of the county’s children would also need to be vaccinated, he said. To date, the vaccines currently available have only been authorized to people age 16 and up.

“In order to speed this up, we really do need more than 2,000-to-4,000 doses per week coming into Monterey County,” Moreno said.

Roughly 32,000 county residents are currently eligible for the vaccine by virtue of being health care workers, long-term care facility and in-home care workers and long-term care and nursing facility residents.

The county also has 38,660 residents age 75 and older, who are eligible for vaccinations following updated guidance earlier this month from federal and state officials.

Between Dec. 8, 2020, and Jan. 23, 2021, 13,402 county residents received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Moreno.

To enhance its vaccination efforts once it begins to receive more doses, the county plans to open point-of-distribution clinics or POD clinics.

The size and location of POD clinics around the county will scale up as vaccine supply increases, Moreno said, but could include hospitals and outpatient clinics, school campuses, libraries, community centers, large public spaces and event centers.

With the county’s current per week allocation, POD clinics will only have a maximum of 500 appointments and will only take place at hospitals, for now.

Ultimately, the county is negotiating or has agreed to POD clinic locations at 32 locations around the county and 91 locations overseen by the Monterey County Office of Education.

“We want to make sure that we cover all the areas necessary to make sure that all residents have a fair opportunity to get the vaccine,” said Mike Derr, a logistics lead for the county’s COVID-19 response. “We want to make sure we have sites ready to go when called upon.”