San Diego, Chula Vista, San Marcos, La Mesa, and now, Del Mar.
San Diego County public health officials are continuing their push to bring easily accessible vaccination sites to all corners of the county by opening their fifth Vaccination Super Station at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday.
The new supersite, located at the fairgrounds at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., is operating through a partnership with Scripps Health in order to provide up to 5,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine a day, based on supply.
“Thanks to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, we have probably one of the best venues in San Diego County by far to offer COVID vaccinations to members of our community," said Chris Van Gorder, CEO and president of Scripps Health the morning of the opening.
People who fall into the Phase 1A category under the state's vaccination strategy, or those 65 years of age or older will be able to receive the vaccine with an appointment, which can be made through the county website here.
For its first week, the Del Mar Fairgrounds site will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Hours will change for the coming weeks but can be found when scheduling appointments. People can either drive through or walk up to their appointments.
Scripps Health has been operating smaller-scale vaccination sites for their patients for weeks, but the Del Mar site will be the first large-scale distribution location for the health group. They will provide the staffing while the county will provide the doses from their supply.
“Scripps Health is pleased to collaborate with the County and the Del Mar Fairgrounds on what will be a very important communitywide resource and new tool in the battle to control and diminish the COVID-19 pandemic locally,” Van Gorder said in a statement. “We are ready to expand beyond the smaller vaccination clinics we’ve been able to offer to Scripps patients over the past few weeks. All we need is a supply of more doses to vaccinate more people.”
Van Gorder warned that "end of the day vaccines," which are vaccinations still available at the end of the day, will be given to those who are eligible for the shot and not to people who wait in line outside hoping to get vaccinated.
“We’re not going to allow line-ups for end of the day vaccines," he explained on Friday. "We already have a mechanism to give people in the qualified category that excess vaccine if there is any, and there really won’t be much of that. So, for safety reasons and we really don’t want people sitting and waiting in line all day hoping to get vaccinated so really, it’s by appointment only."
San Diego County has, so far, administered more than a half-million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 81,000 people have received both their first and second shots accounting for 2.8% of San Diegans -- marking a long road ahead to get the majority of the local population vaccinated.
But while San Diego County has the infrastructure and staffing in place to vaccinate tens of thousands of people a day across all supersites and 12 smaller "vaccination pods," their limited supply is preventing them from reaching their maximum ability.
Newsom on Monday, during a visit to San Diego's -- and the state's -- first large-scale vaccination center, said the supply shortage is a problem state-wide but said it was on the national level.
"The state’s not holding any, we’re the intermediary," Newsom said.
According to the county's vaccination dashboard, there are about 200,000 doses of the vaccine either in route or at county facilities ready to be distributed. So far, the county has not limited appointments to people needing second doses, like some other counties are, though they are prioritizing people needing their second dose.
San Diego County's Vaccination Super Stations
With the opening of Del Mar's location, San Diego County has a total of five vaccination superstations each with the capability to vaccinate about 5,000 people a day.
The first to open was at Tailgate Park at Petco Park stadium. Newsom said Monday that is was also the first of it's kind statewide. The massive, drive-thru site (walk-ups are also welcome, with appointment) is comprised of dozens of tents ready to vaccinate about about 120 people at one time.
The vaccination site did experience some problems within its first weeks of opening. Several allergic reactions prompted the state to hold a certain batch of vaccines for weeks. Then, weather issues forced the location to close for several days.
Next, a vaccination super site opened in Chula Vista, where the majority Latino community was hard-hit by the pandemic. The location at the old Sears building in the Chula Vista Center mall.
“In choosing a site for the superstation, we wanted to make sure that it was a location that was familiar to our communities," San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas said.