San Diego County’s coronavirus vaccination super station near the downtown ballpark reopened Wednesday after being shut down for two days due to wild winter weather.
The downtown San Diego site – located at 1235 K St. at the lot at Tailgate Park near Petco Park – reopened at 7 a.m. but already at 5 a.m., there were cars waiting in line to make their way through the drive-up testing area.
The line was controlled by a few traffic officers, but even still, some people with appointments said drivers were cutting into the line at various intersections. Some had to wait up to four hours for their appointment but by the evening the line dwindled significantly and most had virtually no wait.
The downtown vaccination superstation is operated by UC San Diego Health and the county. It features tents lined up in a parking lot. Patients can either drive through or walk up to the site. In all, there are 12 lines that can accommodate about 10 cars each at a time.
Once in the center, it takes about 30 minutes to get through the entire process, including a mandatory 15 minute wait time after receiving a dose of the vaccine to ensure there are no adverse reactions.
As Monday’s heavy storm and whipping winds pummeled the county, officials shut down the site. It remained closed Tuesday so crews could clean up the damaged tents.
County health officials said anyone who had an appointment that was canceled over the past two days closure would be rescheduled. Anyone who had an appointment there Monday should have been rescheduled to Thursday and anyone with a Tuesday appointment should have been rescheduled to Saturday. Despite the setback, the site plans to honor all existing appointments.
The downtown vaccination super station opened on Jan. 11 with a goal to vaccinate 5,000 Phase 1A health care workers daily, though more than two weeks into operations, it has yet to reach that goal but is averaging about 4,300 doses a day, according to local health officials.
The site has since expanded to offer coronavirus vaccinations for all who are eligible under all tiers of Phase 1A, plus people age 65 and older.
According to the county, those in Tier 1 of Phase 1A are:
- Acute care, psychiatric, and correctional facility hospitals+
- Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals
- Include residents in these settings as recommended for Phase 1A by ACIP
- Paramedics, EMTs, and others providing emergency medical services
- Dialysis centers
- Behavioral health residential facilities
Those in Tier 2 of Phase 1A are:
- Intermediate care, for persons who need non‐continuous nursing supervision, and supportive care
- Home healthcare and in‐home supportive services
- Community health workers, including promotoras
- Public health field staff
- Primary care clinics, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics, and urgent care clinics
- Behavioral health non-residential or outpatient facilities
Those in Tier 3 of Phase 1A are:
- Specialty clinics, laboratory workers + +, dental/oral health clinics, pharmacy staff, and funeral workers and others.
To get vaccinated at the downtown vaccination super station, the county has outlined the process here.
An appointment is required via a UC San Diego Health MyChart account (anyone can sign up and you don’t need to be affiliated with UC San Diego Health to use this site) and when you go to get your vaccine, you must bring a photo ID or documentation that you meet the eligibility requirements.
Photos: Coronavirus Vaccine in San Diego
The downtown vaccination site was the only site impacted by this week’s storm, but the pause came at a time when eligible San Diegans have reported difficulties securing coronavirus vaccination appointments. NBC 7 spoke has spoken with several seniors over the past week who said they simply can’t get an appointment – even after calling for hours and hours, site after site.
Meanwhile, more rain is on the way for San Diego County this week, with a storm in the forecast for Thursday night into Friday. However, county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Tuesday the tents at the downtown vaccination super station have been rebuilt in such a way that the site should now be able to stay open through wintry weather.
The county also runs a vaccination super station in Chula Vista in San Diego’s South Bay – a community hard-hit by COVID-19.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said two more super stations are planned for North County and East County, but the exact locations haven’t been announced. Fletcher said those new vaccination super stations will also aim to administer 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine daily.
Seven smaller vaccination sites are open for appointments now too – from El Cajon to Oceanside – and you can find information on those locations and how to set up an appointment here.
Fletcher said those locations could ramp up to 12 sites by as early as next week, and the county continues to work on making the vaccination process more efficient.
The county has said that as more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine become available, immunizations will expand to those who are eligible under the tiers of Phase 1B and eventually, Phase 1C.
The county has also said that health care providers who have extra doses of the coronavirus vaccine can administer their doses at their own pace, which is what some local providers like Scripps Health and UC San Diego Health began doing last week, slowly.
Meanwhile, state health officials are also working to pick up the pace of the vaccine rollout across California. Officials announced Tuesday plans to build a statewide vaccination network that uses third-party administrators to help with distribution – including pharmacies, hospitals, and pop-up sites.
Earlier Delays at Downtown San Diego Vaccination Super Station
On Jan. 13, just two days after the downtown super station opened, there were some snags. A string of allergic reactions linked to a batch of Moderna vaccines administered at the vaccination super station caused delays for those waiting in line to be vaccinated.
Six people experienced reactions during a 15-minute, post-vaccine observation period. Health workers at the site stopped using that batch of vaccines out of an abundance of caution.
On Jan. 17, the California Department of Public Health recommended a pause on distributing that specific batch of COVID-19 vaccinations linked to the allergic reactions in downtown San Diego.
State epidemiologist Erica S. Pan recommended vaccine providers pause the administration of lot 41L20A of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. More than 330,000 doses of the lot were distributed to 287 providers across California and batch was placed under investigation.
One health care worker who experienced an allergic reaction at the Tailgate Park vaccination site said she couldn’t feel her tongue and had neck pain after being given the shot.
“They gave me 50 milliliters of Benadryl and then they started monitoring me even closer,” Diana Cannizzo, a local health care worker, told NBC 7. “In the meantime, somebody else had come in a gurney."
On Jan. 20, California health officials said it was safe to resume using the batch of Moderna coronavirus vaccine that had been halted after being linked to the illnesses. The decision frees up more than 300,000 doses to counties, cities, and hospitals struggling to obtain supplies.