Hundreds turn out for no-appointment clinic as vaccine eligibility expands


CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Hundreds lined up Friday morning for their shot at a COVID-19 vaccine at a no-appointment clinic at Southwestern College.

Among them was Ruth Ortiz and a friend, who showed up at the college around 2 a.m.

“They said 250 vaccines, first-come first-serve,” Ortiz said. “We gotta be the first ones there.”

Originally set to administer 250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, workers scrambled amid the heavy turnout to secure 150 more doses from another source in the county. The clinic comes a day after California expanded vaccine eligibility to include residents ages 16 and older, less than a month after it opened up vaccinations to people 50 and over.

Friday’s clinic was designed for South Bay residents in more than a dozen local zip codes. Another clinic is scheduled in three weeks at the college for those with appointments for second doses.

Chula Vista resident Oscar Leyva and his two sons waited in line, not knowing whether there would be enough doses for them.

“They’re saying people might not qualify because they come from different zip codes,” Leyva said. “They might find some extra shots and we’ll be able to get those.”

Nearly 2.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, and 1,254,146 county residents — or 62.2% of the county’s goal of 75% of its eligible population — have received at least one dose.

The state’s goal is to vaccinate 75% of people 16 and older to achieve so-called herd immunity — equating to around 2.02 million San Diego County residents.

The county reported a total of 784,730 people in San Diego County — or 38.9% of that goal — are fully vaccinated. The numbers include both county residents and those who only work in the region.

Hundreds of thousands of San Diegans are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, as the state expanded eligibility to everyone age 16 and over on Thursday. Thursday’s expansion of eligibility allowed millions of Californians to make appointments for shots, which could stretch already thin supplies. San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher again urged patience from the public as more vaccines will be shipped to the county in coming weeks.

Both Fletcher and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria received their first doses of the vaccine Thursday and encouraged others to follow suit.

“Help us defeat the pandemic,” Gloria wrote on Twitter. “Make a plan to get your shot now.”

Erin Mascardo, a 19 year-old Southwestern student, said the five-hour wait was worth it.

“Wasn’t too bad,” Mascardo said. “I was just happy to get vaccinated.”

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