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Community groups host pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Napa

Bay Area

NAPA, Calif. (KRON) – As frustration continues to grow in the Bay Area and across California over the state’s slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, community groups are hosting pop-up clinics to get their most vulnerable populations vaccinated.

One Napa Valley community acquired doses from Napa County and its hospital system, inoculating over 3,000 people in two weeks – that’s about 200 people getting shots a day.

“This is the population we serve so I like to think that we know how to reach them quicker. We can do this job better, faster than a big national chain,” Glen Newhart said. 

CEO of St. Helena Hospital Foundation Glen Newhart is following the “community model” the nonprofit opened a clinic at Napa Valley College this month.

“So the upper valley had already moved through 1a and what we’re looking at is we can move into vaccinating our 75 plus, we can vaccinate some congregate living facilities, and we started doing teachers,” Newhart said. 

Newhart says more than 3,000 Moderna vaccines were acquired from Napa County and Adventist Health, healthcare volunteers administered the shots.

Last week, a private practitioner in Walnut Creek lobbied for 500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Contra Costa County and hosted a pop-up clinic drive-thru for seniors after vaccine hotlines and websites became overwhelmed, leaving the most vulnerable scrambling to make appointments to get the vaccine.

One hospital in rural Mendocino County had no choice but to open a clinic.

“The freezer broke and the Moderna vaccines were getting close to room temperature and that we had twelve hours to use it,” Cici Winiger said. 

Cici Winiger with Adventist Health Ukiah Valley says the county health department gave the green light to use every vaccine. In two hours, 630 people vaccinated from city employees to nursing facilities, the jail, and elderly people got the shot.

“This was kind of like a test run of some sort and that’s why I think everyone was so interested because of how quickly we were able to do it,” Winiger said. 

Local public health officials have been critical of the slow rollout in the state.

According to CDC data, more than 4 million doses have been distributed, less than half administered.

It’s been unclear how many doses will actually show up to Bay Area counties.

Dr. George Rutherford infectious disease specialist at UCSF says supply may improve under the Biden administration who vows to release as many vaccines to states.

“I think the past administration did a marvelous job at focusing on vaccines, deliberate vaccine development, vaccine production but it fell down in other places,” Dr. Rutherford said. 

These pop-up vaccination clinics all credit community efforts for their success and hope others will follow.

“There are probably organizations all across this country and certainly across the state and absolutely in the bay area that know their communities better than others and that can marshal the resources,” Newhart said.

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