Solano County Fights Disinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines, Expands Eligibility

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Starting Tuesday, those living or working in Solano County who are 50 and older, can get the COVID-19 vaccine. And the county plans to open it up even further before the end of the week. 

Everyone’s ready to put the deadly days of this pandemic behind them, and for now, widespread vaccinations seem to be the best bet to accomplish that goal.

“Getting vaccinated is key,” said Samantha Morgan of Vallejo. “Everybody has got to participate in that.”

Solano County has expanded their vaccination eligibility to people 50 years or older. Organizers say they want to be the first county to vaccinate everyone because the first case of community spread in the Bay Area was in Solano County.

The county plans to rely on the public’s honesty when it comes to enforcement.

“It’s on the honor system, when the people show up that they are not misrepresenting their situation,” said Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas.

According to the county’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution page, they expect to vaccinate 5,300 people in the next week.

But Matyas says the county could give five times that many shots if it just had enough doses.

“The supply comes, and we take advantage of all that we can get, and into people’s arms as quickly as we can,” she said.

Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, he expects to have plenty of supplies by May, and all adults would then be eligible to get vaccinated.

“We’re going from scarcity in the next five and a half, to six weeks to abundance,” he said. “You heard it from the president himself. “

But Matyas said they’ve been hearing that from the governor and federal government for a while now. 

For now, Solano County says 50 and older is just the beginning. The county’s health officer says by the end of the week, anyone 16 and older with an underlying health condition, will also likely be eligible.

Anyone who is eligible, can sign up to get a vaccination at the pharmacy clinic at Safeways across the county, on the county website. 

As Bay Area counties work to vaccinate the public they are also fighting a disinformation battle about the vaccines.

Bodhi Bay of Vallejo says her friends in bio-tech helped develop COVID vaccines and she trusts them, but she’s heard the myths too.

The CDC addresses some on its website, like people believing the vaccine can give you COVID-19 or result in a positive test -- or that it alters your DNA.

“I definitely would not tell my mom to take something if it does not work,” said Bay.

Solano County’s health officer has heard them too, including the prevalent one Johns Hopkins Medicine tries to dispel, the myth that, “the COVID-19 vaccine can affect women's fertility”

“There’s no evidence at all that it causes infertility or any of the ill effects that people are talking about,” said Matyas, adding that the biggest risks are allergic reactions, which are extremely rare.

“We’ve only had a couple of them here in Solano County, and we’ve given close to 140,000 doses, and neither of those was a serious allergic reaction,” he said.

But he says tens of thousands of people in Solano County will still likely never get vaccinated, either because of myths or due to a general distrust of science or government – maybe both.

“If our goal is to get 75% of the people vaccinated, that’s probably not achievable,” he said.

The county has 450,000 residents and Matyas said at best, probably 60% of the population will get the shots.

So, the county is still targeting those that are most at risk of severe illness or death.

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