SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Santa Clara County health officials announced on Tuesday the opening of a large COVID-19 vaccination site at a church in East San Jose, as it seeks to improve vaccine access in hard-hit communities.

The site located at the Emmanuel Baptist Church located on 467 North White Road would have the capacity to vaccinate 500 people per day, officials said.

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“Having vaccination sites in communities that are most adversely affected is key to getting beyond this pandemic. We here at Emmanuel are glad to be able to offer our site as a space of hope and help during this time,” said Jason Reynolds, Senior Pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

Emmanuel Baptist Church has partnered with the county before, serving as a COVID-19 testing site since the fall. At least 40,000 tests have been conducted at the site.

Reynolds told KPIX 5 earlier this month that the church embraced the county’s offer to become a mass testing site, utilizing its empty and unused gymnasium and banquet hall.

“Having the knowledge, as best we can, of if I’ve been infected, if I’m currently infected, if I’m asymptomatic, just seemed like the logical next step. How do we help our congregation and how do we help all of those who are around us,” the pastor said.

The church, located in zip code 95127, is one of the areas hardest hit by the virus. Officials said about 1 in 10 residents in the zip code have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

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Officials said the Emmanuel site would provide vaccines without requiring an appointment this week. The county said it would set aside some appointments each day for walk-ins and for appointments scheduled by outreach workers providing vaccine information and appointment assistance.

Emmanuel Baptist Church joins other county-operated vaccination sites in San Jose, Gilroy, Mountain View and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the largest vaccination site in the state.

County officials also urged Tuesday for all residents 65 and older, along with healthcare workers to schedule an appointment, saying “multiple sites” have appointment capacity available.

As of Tuesday, the county health system announced they have administered at least 163,989 first doses of vaccine and 53,047 people have been fully vaccinated. More than half of the county’s residents 65 and older have received at least one shot, officials said.

The vaccination site at Emmanuel Baptist Church will operate Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information on the county’s vaccine distribution can be found at sccfreevax.org.

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