For the first time in San Diego County, a mass vaccination event was hosted for high school students. The pilot program was launched at Sweetwater High School, in National City, which was one of the hardest-hit communities during the height of the pandemic.
The event was hosted in collaboration with the city of National City, the Sweetwater Union High School District and the National City Fire Department.
“I guarantee that they will be working with the mayor’s office on expanding this program because it’s pretty darn iconic, if I can say the least,” National City Fire Department battalion chief Robert Hernandez said.
Five hundred high school students, aged 16 and older, were vaccinated Thursday.
“I’m even surprised about the line and how early they showed up," said Richard Luna, a Sweetwater High School senior. "I was like, ‘Wow, I should’ve come earlier’.”
Luna and hundreds of other students were required to bring signed parent-consent forms in order to receive a vaccine. Many said they wanted to get vaccinated to protect their family members, return to in-person learning and help slow the spread of the virus.
“A lot of college and universities require you to get vaccinated in order for you to return on campus and stuff like that, so I felt the need to get vaccinated myself so I can have the option to return if I wanted to,” said Sebastian Mendivil, another senior.
Vaccinated students were gifted a thermometer, hand sanitizer, stickers and their choice of a $10 gift card or T-shirt.
National City mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said the event was part of the city’s 100-day campaign against COVID-19.
“We would have 100 days where we would try to create as many opportunities to get as many people who live and work in National City vaccinated,” Sotelo-Solis said.
Sotelo-Solis said the goal is to vaccinate 48,000 of the city's 60,000 residents and reach herd immunity within the city. They’ve vaccinated about 24,000 people so far. She hopes to expand the pilot program to more schools within the city and beyond.
“If this [vaccination clinic] were to work, the school district would step up and work with the fire department or other health providers to get those vaccines into the arms," Sotelo-Solis said. "This can truly be something that can be replicated."
Students are expected to receive their second doses on May 20.