Mass vaccination site in East San Jose dedicated for vulnerable

A new mass vaccination clinic is now open at the Eastridge Mall in East San José, in the hopes of ensuring more equitable access to people living in that part of the city as well as further south on Gilroy.

The clinic at the Aloha Roller Rink, which opened Friday, is located in an area of the Santa Clara County, which has seen some of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

Patients can drop in at the converted rink on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will be provided to those who meet eligibility requirements. It will transition next week to a blend of appointments and drop-in availability. Starting Monday, the site will operate seven days a week, and will offer evening appointments. The hope is to ramp up to 2,000 vaccinations a day.

There is one hiccup, though: All COVID-19 vaccine appointments available through the County Health System are currently fully booked, and due to a low allocation of vaccine from the state, no new appointments can be made March 7 through March 13.

"We’re working hard get the vaccine to those who need it most," County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith said. "Vaccines are the county’s number one priority right now. Vaccines will save lives. But our primary challenge continues to be getting the vaccine supply we need to protect those at greatest risk."

The kerfuffle is because the state sent a batch of doses manufactured by Moderna as well as another version from Johnson & Johnson, instead of all Moderna. It's taking officials some time to sort out the proper allotments. 

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID vaccine headed to California

"It's kind of hit and miss right now, and we're just begging the state to provide vaccines that we need for this community," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. "We are trying to honor all of the appointments that have already been made. But again, if people are looking for new appointments because all of the other sites are booked up, they may have to wait a bit for us to open up additional appointments."

The site is being operated by Stanford Health Care in partnership with the County of Santa Clara, which is leasing the site from Aloha Roller Rink, a locally owned small business.

The Aloha Roller Rink site will complement other large-scale vaccination sites operated by the County Health System, including the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Expo Hall in East San José, the County Service Center on Berger Drive in San José, Gilroy High School, Levi’s Stadium, and the Mountain View Community Center.

In addition to these sites, the County operates drop-in sites in East San José, Gilroy, and other locations, as well as Valley Health Center clinics and mobile units throughout the county.

Officials said Santa Clara County is vaccinating up to 12,000 people each day.