Santa Clara County launches COVID vaccine clinics in hardest-hit communities – The Mercury News

Santa Clara County is launching pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites in East San Jose and Gilroy, in an effort to reach neighborhoods hit hardest by the virus.

Following a revelation last week that eligible Latinx residents were receiving the vaccine at a lower rate than other groups — despite being disproportionately impacted by the virus — county officials on Thursday unveiled a new strategy to vaccinate underserved communities. The pop-up clinics will move between the two locations on a rotating basis.

“In Santa Clara County, we know we have many ZIP codes that are enormously impacted by COVID-19,” said Cindy Chavez, president of the county Board of Supervisors. “And this gives us the opportunity to come right into the community, right into the neighborhoods, and be able to be present where people need our services.”

She spoke in front of a county public health office on Story Road in East San Jose, where shots were being administered Thursday. That location will be open Thursdays and Fridays.

On Wednesdays, a vaccine clinic will be open at the Gilroy Senior Center.

Despite accounting for a disproportionate share of the county’s infections throughout the pandemic, just 4.1% of Santa Clara’s more than 400,000 qualifying Latinx residents have been vaccinated, health officials reported last week in a new dashboard tracking dose delivery by race. About 8.7% of the county’s more than 620,000 White residents have been vaccinated.

In Santa Clara, Latinos make up 51% of the county’s COVID-19 cases and just 25% of the population; statewide, the group accounts for 55% of cases and about 39% of the population.

Similar discrepancies exist throughout the Bay Area and local leaders are searching for solutions.

Santa Clara County is employing a multi-pronged approach in an attempt to get everyone vaccinated who is eligible. The county opened Levi’s Stadium on Tuesday as what will become California’s largest vaccination site. Health workers are going door-to-door to residents’ homes and businesses, urging them to get vaccinated.

The new pop-up sites will make it easier for people with limited access to transportation or technology by allowing them to walk up to a site in their neighborhood, without having to make an appointment online. Patients can come to the vaccine site in the morning and pick up a wristband, and they will be told when to return for their shot. Registration is first-come, first-served, and it begins at 8 a.m. in Gilroy, and 8:30 a.m. in San Jose.

Anyone 65 and older who lives in Santa Clara County is eligible, regardless of their insurance, healthcare provider or immigration status.

“If we want to recover from the pandemic, it starts right here on the East side of San Jose,” said San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco.

Residents also can visit www.sccFREEvax.org for more information or to make an appointment.

“When it’s your turn, please get vaccinated to protect yourself and your community,” said Rocio Luna, deputy director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. “If you’re 65 and older, now is your turn.”

SAN JOSE - FEBRUARY 11: People make appointments at one of Santa Clara County's drop-in vaccination sites in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE – FEBRUARY 11: People make appointments at one of Santa Clara County’s drop-in vaccination sites in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group) 

Creating another option for people in the Bay Area, CVS on Thursday began offering appointments for COVID-19 shots at its local locations. Inoculations will begin Friday.

Eligible people — those over age 65 and health care workers — can book an appointment at CVS.com, by calling 800-746-7287 or through the CVS Pharmacy app. People can book an appointment for their second dose at the same time they book their first shot.

BART on Thursday said it would offer free rides to anyone returning home from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum inoculation site after receiving a COVID shot. Health workers are set to begin vaccinating people in the Coliseum parking lot Tuesday. Staff at the Coliseum BART station will give anyone with a new vaccination card a free $7 ticket.

“After you get the shot, we’ll get you home,” BART Board President Mark Foley wrote in a news release. “BART is proud to help people get to and from their vaccination appointment and we applaud the Governor and the Biden-Harris Administration for selecting a location that is easily accessible by transit.”

Staff writers Fiona Kelliher and Emily DeRuy contributed to this article.