Mass vaccination clinic returns to Sonoma County Fairgrounds to help slow omicron surge

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, there's a new push to get more people vaccinated and boosted. Starting this weekend, a temporary large-scale free vaccine clinic is opening to the public at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, the hope is more people will get the shots to decrease the number of new omicron cases.

Augustine Ortiz was getting his COVID-19 booster shot Saturday, he admits to putting it off.

"I feel like I needed to be a good example to my kids, they got their vaccines so I gotta do my part to show them we have solidarity," said Ortiz.

The Sonoma County Fairgrounds is now the temporary home to a mass vaccination clinic, similar to those which opened in early 2021 when vaccines were new.

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"I want to stay safe, I don't want to get COVID," said Heidi Dilling.

Dilling is a Santa Rosa 8th grader getting her booster to stay safe.

"The county providing a service shows they are taking this seriously and for our kids to stay in school, we need as much immunization as we can get," said parent Klaus Dilling.

Public health officials say new cases of omicron have plateaued but it may be at least two to three weeks before they start to decline. 79% of Sonoma County residents are now fully vaccinated.

"That still leaves 20% not fully vaccinated, the hope is to get first and second doses to get that protection in the community up," said Sonoma County Vaccine Chief Dr. Urmila Shende.

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Ella Caughey needed her booster to resume college classes at Cal Poly.

"We need herd immunity it's great this is available, so people can get it anytime," she said.

This clinic is also helping first responders and public school staff, the new deadline for them to be fully vaccinated is March 1.

"I think people had a hard time getting in for appointments, many were infected with omicron and couldn't get a booster and staffing shortages made it hard for vaccine clinics to operate," Shende added.

The clinic will operate for the next four weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Walk-ins are welcome.

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