SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County is partnering with the San Francisco 49ers to open Levi's Stadium as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site.
They will begin with 500 vaccinations on Tuesday, but hope to ramp up to vaccinate 15,000 people a day.
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"Let me congratulate the 49ers and their partnership for yet another mass vaccination site here in the state of California," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
Governor Newsom says the goal is simple: to have a system to get people vaccinated. Levi's Stadium will become the largest mass vaccination site in the state.
"When we first opened this stadium, the 49ers knew it would be more than just a building. Our mission here is not to just deliver an exciting game day experience, but one of stewardship," explained 49er President Al Guido.
Santa Clara has been the hardest hit by the pandemic of the nine Bay Area counties. County officials say Levi's is an important choice, not just because of its size, but also its location and access to public transportation.
"This partnership between the San Francisco 49ers and our county gives us the ability to vaccinate at scale," said Santa Clara Valley Medical Center associate chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Tong. "Despite challenges in vaccine supply, we have been able to quickly expand our capacity, and maintain that capacity."
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg says this is also an issue of equity. "We must work intentionally to make very sure no one is left behind. We must redouble our efforts in those pockets of the community that we know are home to the highest rate COVID," said Ellenberg.
As Dr. Tong addressed, Newsom says the big challenge is getting enough supply of the vaccine. But he says after a conversation with the Biden administration Tuesday morning, they expect a small increase in the coming weeks.
"We are moving from five doses of the Pfizer vaccine to extract six doses. That's a 20% increase. That's encouraging," said Newsom.
Many are used to the drive-up COVID-19 testing sites. However, residents will have to park and go inside to get vaccinated at the stadium. Health officials says it's easier to monitor people inside, should they have a reaction to the vaccine, rather than if they are sitting in their cars.
ABC7 News spoke with San Jose resident Alan Winkleman, who became one of the first people to get vaccinated at the site Tuesday afternoon. The lifelong 49ers fan said he had trouble scheduling an appointment with his private provider, but signing up through the county's COVID-19 vaccination website turned out to be a much smoother process.
"Parking was easy (and) there's enough people here to tell you exactly what to do," said Winkleman. "I know there's some people that are hesitant about it, but this is something for not only for yourself, but your family, your friends, and everybody that's around you."
Vaccinations are by appointment only and limited to residents of Santa Clara County 65 and older and eligible health care workers.
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