ALBANY (KPIX) — Golden Gate Fields is racing to make up missed vaccine appointments after animal rights activists shut down the racetrack-turned-vaccination-site on the Albany-Berkeley border Thursday. According to the spokesperson for the city of Berkeley, roughly 200 appointments were canceled.
On Thursday night lights were back on at Golden Gate Fields as horse racing resumed — exactly what protesters were trying to stop. They perhaps didn’t imagine their actions would lead to the shutdown of Berkeley’s mass-vaccination site.
“We see no reason they had to shut down the vaccination site,” said animal-rights activist Almira Tanner. “As you can see, we’re on the opposite end.”
According to the Albany police department, smoke bombs used by protesters were the main concern. As soon as the vaccination site was shut down, agencies from both Berkeley and Albany sprang into action. Vaccines were moved to a refrigerated van nearby to make sure not a single dose was wasted.
“The plan was to move that vaccine to a partner site that would be able to use it at the end of the day rather than go to waste,” said Captain Colin Arnold with the Berkeley fire department.
Golden Gate Fields issued a statement Thursday evening saying, “Trespassing and endangering others are completely inappropriate and illegal methods to express opposition to the sport. This behavior will not be tolerated.”
The vaccination site finally reopened just around 3 p.m. Those who waited were glad they were about to get their shot.
“I feel bad for the horses but the protests affecting the vaccine — it’s a big impact because people coming out here to get vaccines have to come back again,” said Sumit Jain, who brought his parents to get vaccinated.
Captain Arnold says firefighters from Albany and Berkeley fire departments will continue to help to make sure those who missed their appointments will get vaccinated. Those with missed appointments should receive an e-mail telling them how to make up their appointment.