Politician demands reopening of mass vaccination site in eastern San José
SAN JOSE, California – With the increase in COVID cases, a local politician is demanding more be done to help the hard-hit community in eastern San Jose.
He wants a mass vaccination site to reopen to help the largely Latinx population fend off the Delta variant.
Rolando Bonilla is a San Jose Planning Commissioner and COVID survivor.
âCOVID has been the worst experience of my life,â he said.
He fears cases are on the rise and his community in eastern San Jose is vulnerable.
Bonilla held a press conference on Monday to call for action.
“We cannot say that we care about being vaccinated and yet shutting down the largest vaccination site in eastern San JosÃ©. That is a completely mixed message,” he said.
The Mexican Heritage Plaza was the mass vaccination site serving eastern San JosÃ©. But it closed when demand for vaccination declined, as did many other major sites in Santa Clara County.
âAt the beginning, we vaccinated nearly 600 people per day. And towards the end, we were lucky to be able to vaccinate even 50 per day, âsaid Dr Ranjani Chandramouli, medical director of Garner Health Services.
So Gardner Health, which managed the site for the county, pivoted.
They started directing the community to their clinics down the street through emails and signage.
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âThe main thing is messaging, constant messaging,â Chandramouli said.
County officials agreed it was imperative to reach out to the predominantly Latinx community. Their vaccination rate was around 61.9% compared to 76% in the community as a whole, although the older the population, the narrower this gap.
âThe real challenge now is to reach the people who don’t want to, who are not interested or who are a little hesitant. And having mass vaccination sites really doesn’t do that. Santa Clara County.
They go door-to-door, use social media and community influencers, push pop-up clinics, and even set up bars outside on weekends.
They said it would be more likely to have an impact than a large site that would likely remain empty.
Still, they said, reopening the Mexican Heritage Plaza location is not out of the question.
“The possibility is still on the table. We will do whatever it takes to get more vaccines into the guns,” Smith said.
County officials said vaccination is particularly important now with the arrival of the Delta variant.
In recent weeks, Santa Clara County has seen the number of cases triple.