Day 1: Adventist Health Bakersfield begins vaccination of teachers and agricultural workers

Steven Mayer, The Bakersfield Californian
·2 min read

Feb. 23—It's pretty easy to find Bakersfield residents on social media who seem determined to thumb their nose at receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ryan Mulder, a teacher at Grimmway Academy, is obviously not one of them.

"I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to get vaccinated. Today is a red-letter day," said Mulder just moments after he received the Pfizer vaccine at Adventist Health Bakersfield on Monday, the first day teachers and ag workers in Kern County became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This is going to make me safer, my family safer and my students safer," Mulder said. "This is a miracle in your arm, dude. People should be lining up around the block."

According to state guidelines, 30 percent of the current allotment of vaccines is being made available to those who work in education, agriculture, food, child care and emergency services. The remaining 70 percent is allotted to those 65 and older.

Amy Ritchie, an educator with Grimmway Academy's Edible Schoolyard program, said she views being vaccinated as a duty she has to her students, their families and the larger community.

"I think it protects me, but it also protects the kids and the community I'm working in," Ritchie said. "It would be negligent of me not to."

Kiyoshi Tomono, a spokesman for Adventist Health, said the vaccinations are by appointment only.

"Otherwise it's unmanageable," he said.

There are so many moving parts, he said, including how much vaccine is available, how much staff is available, supplies, indoor space and more, all while keeping the vaccine stored in very cold temperatures until ready for use.

According to Tomono, every major health care provider in the county is concentrating on plans to increase the rate of vaccinations in the county.

"We're working on a couple of mobile initiatives," he said, designed to expand the number of vaccinations in rural areas and outlying communities.

As educators and farmworkers were being vaccinated, others who had already received their shots waited the required 15 minutes before leaving.

"My job is to watch over people who have just been vaccinated," said Lupe Turner, a registered nurse with Adventist.

After serving 43 years in health care, Turner seemed anything but jaded Monday, as her enthusiasm radiated out to her patients.

"It's been such a blessing to be part of this, to be able to help people," she said.

On Monday, she was part of a team effort to stop the coronavirus for good.

Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.