OAKLAND (CBS SF) — State and federal officials opened two large mass COVID-19 vaccination sites Tuesday with military personnel administering thousands of doses of the highly-coveted vaccine to local residents in both Oakland and Los Angeles.
The site launches at the Oakland Coliseum and on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles are part of the Biden administration’s effort to open as many as 100 similar sites across the nation to speed up distribution of the vaccine.READ MORE: DA Chesa Boudin Outraged; 2 Killed in Separate Shootings Saturday in San Francisco Potrero Hill Neighborhood
The 6,000 per day capacity at the Coliseum will be added on to Alameda County’s existing vaccine efforts.
“This is a huge number of additional doses and appointments available to county residents,” explained Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. “Freeway access, BART is here, for people who can’t or don’t want to use their cars.”
BART was offering a free shuttle service, and free rides home, but vaccination-by-car was the clear preference on this opening day. In the morning hours, traffic even backed up around the Coliseum. Inside, the operation doesn’t feel much like the big community health clinics the Bay Area has seen in recent weeks. This site, run by FEMA and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), feels much more like disaster response.
Among those gathered on the Cal State LA campus was Gov. Gavin Newsom, who thanked the administration for selecting California for the first two sites to open.
“Let me thank the Biden Administration. The Biden Administration gets it and is getting it done,” the governor said. “This is one of two sites now here in the state of California operational. Beginning today with roughly 3,000 vaccines here in Southern California. 3,000 vaccines in Northern California. By the end of the week, we will double that– 6,000 here, 6,000 in Northern California.”
“It is the first time that we will actually have a community vaccine center that is primarily federally supported, but state managed,” said FEMA Acting Admistrator Bob Fenton, who also spoke at the launch of the Cal State LA site along with Newsom.
Newsom highlighted that the two sites were focused not only on efficiently distributing the COVID vaccine, but also on providing the vaccine to the populations that were in the most need.
“This is a framework, a focus not just on efficiency, not just speed, but on the issue of equity. That’s what brings us here today. Not just the spirit, not just the platitude of this being the North Star. This is what this [Cal State LA] site is all about. It’s proximate to a community that has disproportionally impacted by this pandemic.”
The unveiling of the site in the predominantly Latino community of East Los Angeles is part of an effort by the Biden administration to reach communities that have suffered disproportionately from the outbreak.
Both sites will also have mobile distribution units that will head into Oakland and Los Angeles neighborhoods to administer doses to those who cannot travel to Cal-State Los Angeles or the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Video: Mass Vaccination Site Opens at Oakland Coliseum
Both locations are operating on a supply of vaccine coming directly from the federal governmentREAD MORE: San Francisco Homeless Camp to Be Removed Monday, Advocates Say Residents Have Right to Stay
The federal-state operations were opening as other locally-supported mass vaccination sites in California were being forced to reduce or pause their distribution of vaccines because of dwindling supplies. The Los Angeles and Oakland sites will be supplied vaccines through the federal government and not be forced to dip into the state supply chain, which should prevent unexpected supply disruptions.
In San Francisco, health officials had to pause operations at the city’s mass vaccination sites located at Moscone Center and City College due to the current vaccine shortage.
“The vaccine supply coming to San Francisco’s healthcare providers and the Department of Public Health is limited, inconsistent, and unpredictable, making vaccine roll out difficult and denying San Franciscans this potentially life-saving intervention,” officials said in Sunday’s announcement.
The Moscone Center site was shut down starting Monday for at least for a week. Officials said the CCSF site is scheduled to be shut down until Friday and then vaccinations will be limited to those needing second doses. A third mass-vaccination site has been opened in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood.
At a morning news conference in Oakland, Tina Curry from Cal OES said the Coliseum site would not be tapping into Alameda County’s dwindling vaccine allocation.
“One of the things as we were planning this was to make sure we were not taking away from what is already a scarce source from Alameda County,” Curry said. “So we are grateful to the federal government that this is purely additive. Supply has been a challenge, it continues to be a challenge statewide. We are looking to improve that each and every way. This is a way to help improve that because it is really additive to this community. We know demand is high and the supply has not caught up.”
Newsom said the state is building out an infrastructure in anticipation of a much larger flow of vaccine supply.
“We are building out a system … whose only constraint is supply,” he said. “So when the spigot of supply turns back on, with [Johnson and Johnson] and more Moderna and more Pfizer, that we have no limitations in terms of how we’ve organized the logistics and the network operation and the data and the transparency.”
“So that’s what this represents, what Dodger Stadium represents, it’s what all those other large mass sites represent,” Newsom continued. “But also, again, these mobile efforts, meeting people where they are, going into our diverse communities and that’s the message we wanted to deliver today. And we’re delivering it because of a new administration, the Biden administration, and their demonstrable leadership.”
Appointments are now available through the state’s website – MyTurn – and Cal OES hopes to hit that 6,000 capacity in the coming days.
“I encourage people to use the appointment system,” Curry said. “This is not something where if you just show up will necessarily be able to serve you on a given day. Use the system, sign up, there will be more openings. You know, we’re going to be here for a while.”
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: COVID: Health Experts Believe 'Herd Immunity' Exists In Pockets Of San Francisco Bay Area
Wilson Walker contributed to this report.