HOLTVILLE — Holtville’s first COVID-19 vaccination clinic is scheduled to take place next week, when up to 100 doses will be administered to individuals 65 years and older by the staff of Dr. Vincent Soun.
The clinic is being organized as a two-day drive-through event and will take place in front of the Pine Avenue office of Soun’s practice, the Sarin & Tao Family Medical Clinic Inc.
Soun has been allocated a total of 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the county Public Health Department and is giving priority registration to his patients, although seniors who are not currently under his care can register as well.
Though there has been delays in the arrival of the 100 vaccine doses, Soun said on Friday, Feb. 19, that he was hopeful the vaccine would arrive shortly after Sunday.
“I rather not cancel the event, but that is out of my control,” he said.
As of the morning of Friday, Feb. 19, Soun said his office had already registered more than 70 seniors who have submitted registration packets and been pre-screened to receive the vaccine.
He said he is hoping to receive additional registration packets in a timely manner so that he can review applicants’ medical histories to help determine whether any existing medical conditions may increase the likelihood of an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“That’s really my goal,” Soun said, “that no one suffers any really serious side effects when they get it.”
The two-day drive-through clinic will take place on the mornings of Thursday, Feb. 25, and Friday, Feb. 26, starting at 8 a.m. The segment of Pine Avenue in front of Soun’s office will be closed to through traffic during the duration of the clinic on both days.
Medical staff from his office will be administering the vaccine under Soun’s supervision.
“People can just drive by, roll up their sleeve and get a shot,” he said.
Soun said he has been working closely with the Public Health Department in order to host the vaccine clinic. The agency distributes vaccines that it receives from the state to local healthcare providers, which have been clamoring for more.
“Right now, we just take what we can get,” Soun said. “If everything goes well, I’m hoping we can get a whole lot more vaccines. Our plan is to do a mass vaccination clinic right here in Holtville.”
Statewide, nearly 7 million doses of vaccine had been administered as of Thursday, Feb. 18, according to the California For All website, a repository of information related to state’s COVID-19 response.
As of the same date, some 19,393 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered locally by public health stakeholders, with 54.7 percent of those doses going to individuals 65 years or older, the website reported.
Seniors account for about 85 percent of Soun’s patients, and the majority of them have expressed a desire to be vaccinated. He has also created a sign-up sheet for individuals under 65 years of age who would like to be vaccinated at any mass vaccination events his office potentially hosts in the future.
It is crucial for individuals interested in being vaccinated to sign up in advance, since medical staff typically needs to have an idea of how many vaccines to prepare, which takes a few hours and therefore do not allow for an unscheduled vaccination injection, Soun said.
“Whoever is interested should sign up,” Soun said. “The sooner we get the vaccine, the sooner we can put them in people’s arms.”
The Holtville Fire Department will be on hand on Thursday and Friday to help with traffic control and to monitor patients who receive the vaccine and assist anyone who may experience side effects, Chief Alex Silva said.
The department recently had four of its EMTs receive training from the state’s Office of Emergency Services to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and has had them participate in the large-scale, drive-through vaccination clinics hosted by the county Public Health Department at Imperial Valley College in recent weeks.
When Dr. Soun had advised the Fire Department of his intentions to host a vaccination clinic, Silva said he was able to provide some recommendations, which were well-received.
“We suggested he have a drive-through clinic like they did at (Imperial Valley College),” Silva said.
And though the department’s EMTs were able to assist with administering the vaccine during the clinics at IVC, Soun’s staff will be exclusively handling vaccination duties during next week’s clinics.
“We’re there if they need us, but I think they will be able to handle it,” Silva said.
The Holtville Chamber of Commerce is also lending its assistance for the vaccination effort. Those interested in receiving the vaccine from Soun can pick up and drop off a registration packet from the chamber’s office, at 101 W. Fifth St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
“I’m helping alleviate traffic to the doctor’s office,” said Rosie Allegranza, chamber chief executive officer.
After the vaccine is administered, patients will be directed to a nearby city-owned lot monitored by Fire Department personnel to wait 15 minutes to determine whether any side effects arise, Allegranza said. Those whose pre-existing medical conditions place them at a greater risk of experience adverse side effects will be asked to wait a little longer.
“If they have underlying conditions, they have to wait 30 minutes,” she said.