SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of seniors lined up in the rain Thursday morning to secure their spot at Santa Clara County's first COVID-19 walk-up vaccination site. The scene at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose, an area hit hardest by the pandemic, illustrated the high demand for the vaccine.
"My mom's 92 and she's got diabetes, and she lives in a multi-family home, so these are really important factors," said Elizabeth Robledo, who brought her parents to the plaza. "I just called them last night and they said, 'yeah, let's go!'"
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The vaccine clinic, which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is operated by Gardner Health Services in partnership with the county. Healthcare workers and those over the age of 65 are currently eligible to get vaccinated.
"It kind of takes a load off your mind about possibly getting sick," said San Jose resident Jan Johnson, who was relieved to learn that didn't have to make an appointment. "I don't do things online like younger people do."
Vaccines are administered between noon and 6 p.m., but wristbands are given out starting at 9 a.m. to the first 500 people in line.
"We all know the pandemic has disproportionately impacted our Latino, our working-class community," said Jessica Paz-Cedillos, executive director of the Mexican Heritage Plaza. "There are five zip codes in East San Jose that makeup 31% of the cases that are reported in the county."
If there are doses unassigned by the mid-afternoon, Gardner will work with its nonprofit partners to reach out to other community members who meet the county criteria to ensure that nothing goes to waste.
"We need to be fair. We need to be equitable," said Cyndi Ragona, Gardner's operations director. "This offers hope to the community that we can get control of this virus and start to have a normal society again."
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