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Vaccine Void: Confusion over local COVID vaccine distribution leaves some seniors scrambling

Confusion over the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine led to a broken promise to get some of our most vulnerable citizens the shot first.

In I-Team Reporter Karen Devine's special report "Vaccine Void" she spoke with community members who said the rollout plan by the state left some people out and scrambling to get the vaccine.

94-year-old Rosalind Trippeer of La Quinta had to travel to Beaumont to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Trippeer's son Gary was able to secure an appointment just days after the CDC denied the vaccine to the La Quinta Independent Living Facility where Rosalind lives.

"I think that's a huge fail that the CDC cannot see past the issue where it says independent, and because it says independent in the name of the facility, that knocks them out of a program that would provide all these people with shots," said Gary Trippeer.

The parent company for The Palms at La Quinta enrolled over 6,000 residents nationwide into the CDC Pharmacy Partnersip Program for long-term care back in October.

On January 15th they were notified that all of their "Independent Living Facilities" were ineligible to have pharmacy partners vaccinate their residents, but they should be included in the future rollout of the vaccine by the states.

That news sent the parent company, Hawthorn Senior Living, scrambling to find available vaccines for their residents.

In reaction to the CDC's decision, Hawthorn Senior Living released this statement,

"The inconsistency across states and counties makes working with local jurisdictions incredibly challenging, particularly coupled with inconsistent priorities in the recipients and availability of the vaccine by state and county."

Across town, the owner of long term care facility Vista Cove at Rancho Mirage, says he too had trouble getting the vaccine program scheduled for his residents which includes a 56 bed alzheimer's unit. The facility's executive director called CVS twice a week to get on the calendar.

"The frustration has been that I hear about all these other people that are getting vaccines and people getting vaccines that are not in 1A or 1B categories. And then, the governor comes out and reduces the age from 75 to 65 when there isn't enough vaccine now for the 75 plus population, and especially the most vulnerable people," said Floyd Rhoades, Owner Vista Cove at Rancho Mirage.

Persistence did pay off for Vista Cove residents who are now scheduled to receive their first dose of the vaccine on February 6th. Their second round of shots have been scheduled as well.

CVS says they've already aministered over 196 thousand shots in California. Vista Cove is one of the nearly 15-thousand Assisted Living and other Long Term Care facilities working with CVS in California. They started in January and are now about a third of the way through first doses.

Meanwhile, more than half of the nearly 500 skilled nursing facilities are now on their second dose.

Still waiting to be vaccinated are many grocery store workers, essential workers in food production and service.

"Traditionally in those grocery stores, an employee can come into contact with over 500 people in a day. That is incredibly critical that those people are vaccinated," said Joe Duffle, Local President UFCW

These workers are listed in the Phase 1B, Tier 1 and according to Duffle should be getting their vaccines now.

As the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union for Riverside County he's been advocating for his members at the county, state and federal level. He blames the lack of vaccines.

"For me to sit here and tell our essential workers out there, 'hey, be patient, it's coming,' that's ridiculous. The folks that want the vaccine want the vaccine, the folks that need the vaccine need the vaccine, and the folks that don't, don't it's really about supply and demand and the supply is not meeting demand," said Duffle.

Tuesday, Riverside County Supervisors said the amount of vaccine supply continues to be limited. As for The Palms at La Quinta, some of the other Independent Living Residents have been able to get scheduled for the vaccine through Eisenhower Health.

A source tells me the staff is working to get the others scheduled at a county vaccine location.

Download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store or Google Play to get alerts on when new appointments or vaccine clinics are available.

Coronavirus / Investigative / News / News Headlines / Top Stories
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Karen Devine

Karen Devine is celebrating her 27th year delivering the local news as an anchor and reporter in the Palm Springs television market. Learn more about Karen here.

KESQ News Team


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