Tulare County starts vaccinating more healthcare workers including dentists, optometrists for COVID-19

Eufemia Didonato

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — In an effort to speed up what has been a slow rollout of the vaccine, the state of California has given individual counties the green light to expand vaccinations to all workers in phase 1A.

It means people working in a variety of different healthcare fields can now sign up for their first dose of the shot.

Brandon Flenory, a technician at Serrins Valley Vision in Visalia, scheduled his appointment for Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve kind of been waiting for this to happen,” Flenory said. “And so I’m excited, a little nervous, but definitely excited to go through with it.”

Others that are now eligible to receive a vaccine include: Workers at primary care and specialty clinics, pharmacies, mortuaries, and dental clinics.

Visalia dentist Dr. Richard Barnes will get his first dose at the Tulare County Government Plaza on Friday.

“Once you get your second one and it takes effect, the chances of being a spreader are going to be a lot less,” Dr. Barnes said. “And I think to reduce the chance (of) more risk for the patients and keep it safer for them is the best way to go.”

Dr. Barnes also hopes to help the broader community by offering immunizations at his surgery center.

The details haven’t been finalized yet.

“Most of these patients are used to dentists numbing their mouths and all we’re going to do is poke their arm which I think will probably make them feel even a little more at ease than having it done in their mouth,” he said.

Once there’s a greater supply of the vaccine, Tulare County Public Health officials say partnerships like this will help them vaccinate residents in Phases 1B and 1C, as well as the general population.

For now, anyone that fits into those categories can fill out an online form the department has created.

“By providing us your contact information and answering simple questions of your age, health conditions, and employment, then we’re able to when we get to your tier or your phase of the vaccine rollout, we will make communications back directly to you on where and when you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Tulare County’s Carrie Monteiro said.

Phase 1A vaccinations will continue into February.

Health officials hope the subsequent phases will follow soon after that.

For more information about Tulare County’s vaccine rollout, click here.

Fill out the COVID-19 interest form here.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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