Pop-up COVID vaccination in Oakland aims to help hard-hit community

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has teamed up with the Native American Health Center in Oakland and Alameda County to provide COVID-19 vaccines to people in the Fruitvale district, one of the areas hit hardest by the virus.

The Fruitvale and surrounding zip codes have some of the highest coronavirus case rates in the county. It’s why Natalie Aguilera with the Native American Health Center said she is so grateful to partner with FEMA to provide vaccines in the heart of the neighborhood. The pop-up site opened on Saturday and has seen an overwhelming response.

"It was going to be just for the weekend, but it’s such a needed service that our phones are rining off the hook," she said. "They’ve asked us to extend it out until the end of the week."

The NAHC said it has been doing outreaching and working on building trust in communities of color so that people are not hesitant to get the shot.

"Even doing the mass vaccination sites, they’re not in the heart of the community like we are," Aguilera said. "We’re a trusted partner. They know us. That’s been the best way to get it to these hard hit communities."

Carla Estrada, a landscaper, said she knows some people may be reluctant, but she was excited to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

"I survived cancer so I want to survive Covid-19 as well and if getting the vaccine is a part of that, why not," Estrada said. "I’m just glad that it’s here… that it’s here for the community directly because it’s really hard for the working class to get time off to drive to different places."

The vaccination site will be open from 9am-5pm through Friday, Feb. 26. Anyone who meets the age requirements of 65 and older or is an essential worker, can call the NAHC at 510-434-5360 to schedule an appointment for a vaccine.