by Max Darrow

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The quiet Alviso community of San Jose revved with excitement on Saturday, with hundreds of cars on display for the 15th annual Santos Family Labor Day Car Show.

“We probably have around 600 cars today, which is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” Richard Santos said. “We really do have a variety of cars — you’ve got a $200,000 car and maybe a $50 car.”

While most people showed up to check out the cool cars, many also showed up to get a COVID-19 vaccine as well.

“Councilperson David Cohen called me up and said ‘hey we can make that available’ and I said ‘in a minute!’ Ignorance will kill you, education will set you free, I said ‘bring it out,'” Santos said.

Cohen told KPIX he thought the car show would be a great place for a pop-up vaccination clinic.

“This is an underserved part of San Jose and, since it’s a remote part of the city, it often doesn’t have as many services. We’ve run a couple of clinics up here, so we thought let’s do it one more time since an event is going on,” Cohen said. “If we can bring vaccines to where the people are and people have not yet had a convenient way to get the vaccine, we just want to make sure they’re reminded and have convenient access. If a few people that had not yet been vaccinated get vaccinated today, then we’ve been successful.”

KPIX met Sebastian Gonzalez, 13, and his mom at the car show. He got his first dose of the vaccine while enjoying the classic cars coming and going.

“It was interesting seeing cars passing by while I was getting the vaccine,” he said.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, says pop-up clinics can play an important role in raising vaccination rates.

“Having pop-up mobile clinics at places where people are hanging out is a great idea. It’s exactly what you can do to normalize it,” she said. “The best thing we can do is get our vaccination rates even higher.”

The delta variant surge is slowing down, she says, but it isn’t over yet.

“Now, we’ve seen, gradually, the cases coming down. They’re half of what they were at the peak of the delta surge. That’s where we are in the whole Bay Area,” she said. “In San Francisco itself we’re at half of our peak and half of the test-positivity rate of our peak through the delta variant.”

Santos is thrilled his family’s car show, a community-wide affair, can be a part of the greater community-wide solution — forcing COVID-19 to take its foot off the gas.

“We had an opportunity and we took it very seriously,” he said.