Local and regional officials gathered for the official unveiling of the new "mega" coronavirus vaccination center located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton on Wednesday, which has the ability to vaccinate up to 5,000 residents a day once the supply grows.
Elected and local health officials praised the opening of the new site, which was created in partnership between Alameda County Public Health Department, Sutter Health, Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare and hosted by the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
"This is a great mega point of distribution but we are looking for more and more sites where we can efficiently and effectively administer vaccinations. It's just the beginning," Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert said at the fairgrounds site on Wednesday.
"It truly is a great example of public private partnerships working with Stanford-ValleyCare, working with Sutter, working with the state of California, Alameda County Public Health, everyone coming together to make sure that we can get doses into the arms of people who need to be vaccinated," he added.
Drop-ins are not currently allowed at the Alameda County Fairgrounds COVID-19 vaccine "Mega POD" (point of dispensing), and only residents who are at least 65-years-old or work in health care are allowed to schedule appointments.
County staff say the fairgrounds site is issuing several hundred vaccinations per day as of Wednesday, however those figures will be up to 1,000 a day by next week. If vaccine supply increases throughout the state, the Fairgrounds Mega POD also has the capacity to ramp up to administer 5,000 doses per day.
State and local officials praised the opening of the site, with many saying that mass vaccinations are the first step in helping life return to a sense of normalcy.
"You can see people flowing in to get their vaccines and this is what we need to be doing, we need to be getting more and more people the vaccines in their arms so that we can get our communities back up, get our kids back in schools and get us safe," State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said. "Thank you to everyone who I know has worked incredibly hard to make this happen. The community is so grateful, I am so grateful and we look forward to the day when we can all go back to life as normal."
"This is going to be an extremely important facility. We're hoping to have thousands of doses for people daily once it becomes fully operational," added Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, whose District 4 includes Pleasanton. "This is extremely important because the more people who get vaccinated the sooner we can get back to a normal life or close to a normal life when we have herd immunity."
Local officials were also on hand to share their thoughts on the new vaccination center, while also encouraging residents to check their vaccination status and to schedule an appointment to receive their dose as soon as they are able to.
"We are so grateful to be the host city surrounding the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Everyone who can please come out, get your vaccine as soon as you qualify this is the method to get herd immunity. We are here to support you and we want everyone to return back to normal as soon as possible," Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown said.
"Thank you to Alameda County and the Health Department … I also wanted to give recognition to all of the residents in Alameda County for staying in there and keeping up with wearing masks," added Dublin's Mayor Melissa Hernandez. "One important thing to say is, I want everybody to sign up."
At the moment there are three ways Alameda County residents can sign up to receive a vaccination, residents can sign up through Sutter Health, Stanford-ValleyCare or if they are not a member of those groups, through the ACPHD.
For the latter option, residents need to register with county health who will respond with an invitation to receive a vaccination when a position opens for them to do so. Residents can register through the county online at www.covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines.
County health officials say ValleyCare and Sutter Health was instrumental in the creation of the vaccination center and that their cooperation highlighted the coming together of the public and private sectors in order to serve the community.
"I want to reiterate what an amazing opportunity this has been for the public and private sectors to come together," said Rick Shumway, President and CEO, Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare. "It's really just an amazing example of everyone coming together to meet an essential community need at this moment in time. We are so excited, we think this marks a very important phase in the pandemic's evolution and I would encourage everyone to come down and take advantage of this site."
“The Sutter Health integrated network of care has moved swiftly to establish and expand several large-scale vaccination sites across Northern California, like the one we’re helping to launch at the Alameda County Fairgrounds,” said Teresa Sarlitto, Vice President of Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Alameda County.
“These large-scale sites are an important part of our commitment to the communities we serve to deploy as much vaccine as possible to eligible patients and high-risk populations, as supply allows," she added.
The Pleasanton site is currently open by appointment only 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Residents can track the status of vaccinations and when they may be eligible to receive their own vaccine online at covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines.