The mass vaccination site at the Kern County Fairgrounds is set to close July 5 after a precipitous drop in use.
The adjustment follows similar efforts across California as counties look to move past individuals who actively sought out the vaccine to those who are more hesitant. In May, Alameda County and Los Angeles County ceased vaccinations at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, two venues that had administered thousands of doses per day. Recently, LA shut down four other large-scale vaccine distribution sites throughout the county.
In Kern County, the fairgrounds vaccinated more than 10,000 people in one week at one point. But lately, the site has administered less than 1,500 doses per week.
“The fairgrounds mass vaccination clinic has been such an efficient and effective way to administer vaccination to a large number of people quickly,” Kern County Public Health Services Director Brynn Carrigan told the Board of Supervisors during a report on Tuesday. “With the help of the county’s Emergency Operations Center and many staff from various departments, we have successfully administered 87,676 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at this site to date.”
Instead of the fairgrounds, the county now plans to distribute vaccines from the Public Health Services office at 1800 Mt. Vernon Ave. in addition to deploying mobile clinics within specific neighborhoods.
Many local health care providers also distribute the vaccine. A list of providers is available at kernpublichealth.com.
The fairgrounds site will remain available to the county through September should the demand exceed what the Public Health Services office is capable of handling. The fairgrounds can also be used as a field hospital if another wave of coronavirus infections overwhelms local hospitals.
Carrigan characterized the change as the county moving on from temporary to permanent infrastructure. With immunizations for the upcoming school year beginning to get underway, the county hopes many 12 and older students will receive the COVID-19 vaccine along with their other shots.
“Having the COVID vaccine at the time our youth are receiving other services adds a convenience factor to getting vaccinated,” Carrigan said.
As of Monday, only 15.5 percent of Kern’s 12-15-year-old population had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In total, 342,775 local residents are either partially or fully vaccinated. That is 45.5 percent of the county’s eligible population, and it falls far short of the statewide average of more than 70 percent.
Still, coronavirus spread in Kern County appears to be falling. On Tuesday, Public Health Services reported a case rate for Kern County of 1.4 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, down from 2.2 a week earlier.
The testing positivity rate is 1.2 percent, down from 2.2 percent the prior week.
In the poorest parts of the county, the testing positivity rate is 1.7 percent, which did not change from a week earlier.
Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson said in an email there was no indication about why the case rate had dropped. However, she said that drop could not be attributed to declining testing, which has increased.
“The decrease in our case rate is likely an indication that there are less COVID-19 cases in our community,” Corson wrote.