San Diego County opens ‘vaccination super station’ near Petco Park
Officials collaborated with UC San Diego and the San Diego Padres to get the vaccination site operational in less than five days
A 280,000-square-foot COVID-19 vaccination site that aims to inoculate 5,000 health care workers each day will open downtown San Diego Monday, county and health officials announced Sunday.
In a collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, and the San Diego Padres, county and city officials established what they call the “vaccination super station” at 13th Avenue and K Street in less than five days.
“This kind of collaboration is going to be the new normal,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who attended the media event Sunday to unveil the new site. “This will be the new business as usual when it comes to how our governments at the local level will collaborate.”
The San Diego Padres provided the location — a tailgate parking lot near Petco Park — as well as wireless Internet and event staff to help handle parking and direct traffic through the vaccine process. UCSD staff and volunteers will be administering vaccines and overseeing operations.
The unveiling of the testing site came on a day when the county reported 3,288 new cases and 33 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the region’s death toll to 1,857. There were 32 additional patients hospitalized and four being treated in intensive care units as of Saturday, county officials said.
The outdoor site includes at least two dozen tents for registration and vaccine administration, and several temporary structures to house the vaccines and provide work spaces for support staff. At least 300 people will be administering the vaccines, directing traffic, registering those with appointments and overseeing the logistics of the entire operation.
County health officials don’t know the total number of immunizations that have occurred so far
UCSD Chief Executive Officer Patty Maysent said those with appointments must drive into the lot, register and receive the vaccine in their vehicle. They will then be monitored for negative reactions to the vaccine for 15 minutes before being allowed to leave. Once registered, each vaccine recipient will automatically be registered for his or her second and final vaccine dose. The vaccine has been about 95 percent effective in protecting against COVID-19, which has so far sickened 191,888 people in the county.
According to San Diego County spokesman Mike Workman, the county is funding the operation. Officials are currently negotiating a contract to determine the final cost and are hoping additional aid from the state and federal governments will help offset the county’s total bill.
Gloria appealed directly to state and federal officials to provide more local funding for vaccination efforts.
“None of this is free,” Gloria said. “The message is simple, Washington. We need additional economic relief.”
There are approximately 500,000 people in San Diego County who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. For now, the super station will be available only to health care workers.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he hopes to open up the site to others who are eligible when the vaccine becomes more widely available, but that will depend on the availability of vaccines in the coming weeks.
“We’re operating under the assumption that if we move faster and we use everything we have in our county, that we ought to be first in line to get more,” Fletcher said. “So that requires us to take a leap of faith ... There is a possibility that we could stand up all of this infrastructure and run out of vaccines while we push for more, but we would rather have that problem than the opposite, where we’re not getting (more vaccines) because we’re not prepared.”
Health care workers, who are among the first to receive the vaccine in California, are encouraged to contact their healthcare providers for the vaccine first, but if none are available, they can make an appointment for the county’s vaccine super station at www.VaccinationSuperStationSD.com, county officials said. Starting Monday, the site will be restricted to those receiving the vaccines; all others must remain outside the perimeter of the site due to fire marshal permit requirements and federal patient privacy laws.
In addition to the super station, the county has four smaller vaccine locations in San Diego, El Cajon, Escondido and Chula Vista. The coronavirus vaccine is also available through pharmacies, primary care facilities and locations overseen by the Veterans Health Administration.
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