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Next vaccine stage expected by February

Over 4,200 people have signed up to receive Nevada County-specific text message updates on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as of Monday, according to Connecting Point Executive Director Ann Guerra.

The text message alert system, a partnership between Nevada County Public Health and 211 Connecting Point, was announced Friday. Anyone can subscribe to the alerts by texting VACCINEINFO to 898211.

“It seemed like a good thing to employ in this situation … where there isn’t just one piece of news. There are updates,” said Guerra. “To be able to push the information out to them so that they don’t have to keep seeking it out themselves is reassuring to people.”



The 211 text message alert capacity has existed for a few years, according to Guerra, with the service’s most notable recent use garnering around 10,000 subscriptions as Nevada County residents signed up for Jones Fire updates in August.

Guerra said calls to the 24/7 informational line — which can be reached by dialing 211 or 1-833-DIAL211 — have “exploded” since last week. She said the call center normally receives around 100 calls per day, and that in recent days, it has been receiving around 600 calls per day.




Relying on information provided by county Public Health staff, call operators have largely been helping callers figure out where they fall within vaccine prioritization guidelines, and answering questions about vaccine availability in Nevada County.

In order to help the center accommodate the increased call volume, four county staff members began working as call operators beginning Sunday morning, and will stay on until at least Friday, according to county Office of Emergency Services Program Manager Paul Cummings.

Cummings said county officials are also planning on sharing more information, “not only through 211, but also creating content around teaching the public what the tier and phase system looks like so they understand where they fit in.”

“Hopefully, as the vaccine rollout becomes more robust, there will be even more messaging around timing,” he said.

COUNTY PROGRESS THROUGH TIERS

According to a Nevada County Public Health update, residents in Tiers 1 and 2 of Phase 1A are eligible to be vaccinated as of Monday, with some sectors of Tier 3 expected to start next week.

Phase 1A, generally, includes health care workers in a variety of roles and settings, as well as residents of skilled nursing or long-term care facilities.

State officials announced last week that individuals 65 and older should be prioritized in cases of demand subsiding in higher-priority groups or if doses were about to expire, but this age group has found varying levels of availability across the state as doses remain limited in some counties, including Nevada County.

According to Public Health, Nevada County has received 3,850 doses from the state as of Sunday, and anticipates it will receive 1,950 more in the coming week, which would bring the county total to 5,800.

In a statement last week, they said the county has over 6,000 residents who fall within Phase 1A.

According to county Public Health officials, residents 65 and older will become eligible in Phase 1B, which they expect to move into by Feb. 1.

Statewide, 1,393,224 vaccine doses have been administered as of Sunday, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.


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