San Diego Launches Pilot Program to Help Vulnerable Locals on Path to Get Vaccinated

The program starts on Feb. 5 in San Diego's South Bay, a community hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

With thousands of San Diegans eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and a limited supply, many are describing the search to secure an appointment as frustrating and difficult.

“I keep tracking [the system,]” said National City resident Nicholas Galvante. "I’ll check at 2 in the morning, 4 a.m., 5 a.m.”

Galvante has been frantically trying to book an appointment for his 84-year-old grandma for weeks.

“It’s very scary when I still have to go out to work,” said Galvante.

NBC 7's Audra Stafford shares details of a pilot program launching on Feb. 5 that aims to get vulnerable San Diegans vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Galvante said his grandma lives with him and his parents in a multi-generational home. For a family of essential workers, it is crucial the family’s matriarch gets vaccinated as soon as possible. 

“I had tried for several days, so I expressed my frustration to my children,” said Coyote Moon, another National City resident.

Moon was able to get her first vaccine two weeks ago thanks to her daughter's help.

Both Moon and Galvante’s grandmother have had their family members help them with the process, but not everyone does.

Older adults unable to navigate a computer have been left at a disadvantage, especially those living in already communities. 

The South Bay has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. National City has the highest case rate in the county, and for vulnerable communities like it, vaccination is key.

NBC 7's Melissa Adan has the story.

On Wednesday, County Supervisor Nora Vargas announced a plan to help boost vaccinations among these vulnerable communities. 

“We know the challenges our communities have," said Vargas.

Starting Friday, the county will begin training community health workers to help in this pilot program to support locals trying to secure those COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Vargas' office told NBC 7 Friday about 100 people are being trained on health and safety protocols, the online appointment system and other things that will help them help others in the community.

Once they're trained, these workers will be tasked with canvassing food distribution sites and grocery stores across National City, Chula Vista, San Ysidro and Imperial Beach. At those locations, they will reach out to locals to give them information and support on how to make coronavirus vaccination appointments.

Vargas' office said the county will set aside blocks of appointments for those in these communities contacted by the health workers in the pilot program.

It's an effort to close the digital divide that could ultimately save lives. 

The county plans to expand the program to other communities in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the county said seniors age 75 and up who don’t have access to a computer can call 211 for help with vaccination appointments. But, because staffing is slim, the county is asking only those 75+ to call that number.

Contact Us