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San Diego State to open COVID-19 vaccine site in Viejas Arena tomorrow

REGION – Beginning tomorrow, anyone eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego County will be able to book an appointment at a new county-operated site opening at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena.

Through a partnership between SDSU and the county, Viejas Arena will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointment availability depends on vaccine supply, which remains limited across the state and nation.

“SDSU and the County of San Diego have a long-standing and strong partnership working together to address pressing public health issues in our region,” SDSU President Adela de la Torre said. “Our teams are both attentive to the need to expand vaccine access, and Viejas Arena is a convenient location for both our campus and the public.”

The university, in partnership with the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, also is working to expand the existing community health worker program, which focuses on testing and vaccine outreach across San Diego County’s most underserved communities.

“Together, we have already expanded access to COVID-19 testing, sustained a project that is improving contact tracing efforts, and also are offering direct support to those who speak languages other than English,” de la Torre said. “These collaborative efforts have direct and positive impacts on the daily lives of our community.”

University officials encourage all community members currently eligible to get vaccinated — including SDSU students, faculty and staff — to consider all available community-based options for getting vaccinated. Most people in California will get vaccinated through their primary care physicians, pharmacies, county sites and other community-based locations.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher praised the ongoing collaboration.

“The county’s long public health partnership with SDSU expanded in May 2020 to use community health workers trained by the university’s public health department to help reach our most vulnerable population,” he said. “The opening of a robust vaccination site at this well-known location offers an important expansion of our equity-focused outreach into the nearby historically underserved communities.”

In addition to hosting a county-operated vaccination site at Viejas Arena, SDSU continues its COVID-19 Testing Program, which has allowed public health and epidemiology teams to actively monitor potential COVID-19 risk in real time and to create interventions as needed.

The university’s Student Health Services continues to offer testing for all students, including mandatory testing for those in on-campus housing, who are taking in-person courses and who are engaged in university research.

Through SDSU’s partnership with the county, testing offered at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center remains available to faculty and staff as well as the public.

Health officials on Sunday also reported that 797,640 — or 29.7% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines, and 495,175 people — or 18.4% — have been fully vaccinated.

Nearly 1.44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region, and more than 1.4 million have been logged as administered. That number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

On Monday, San Diego County transferred daily operation of the North County COVID-19 Vaccination Super Station at Cal State San Marcos to Sharp HealthCare, which is collaborating with Palomar Health to jointly administer vaccinations.

Earlier this month, Sharp and Palomar joined forces to begin vaccinating North County educators at an adjacent San Marcos site in association with the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association.

Scott Evans, CEO of Sharp Grossmont Hospital and chairman of Sharp’s COVID-19 vaccination program, said that once vaccine supply increases, Sharp has the capability to administer 100,000 doses each week through the five community vaccination sites it operates in partnership with the county. In addition to San Marcos, Sharp operates clinics at Chula Vista Center, Coronado Community Center, Grossmont Center and the Sharp Central San Diego Knollwood.

Meanwhile, the county’s first and largest vaccination super site at Petco Park, which administered more than 200,000 Moderna vaccines, closed this weekend in preparation for the San Diego Padres opening day.

The Petco Park site had closed temporarily multiple times due to lack of vaccines, but with the Padres preparing for opening day, its closure was inevitable.

The county, the city, UC San Diego and the Padres opened the superstation on Jan. 11. Five other superstations are operating in La Jolla, Chula Vista, La Mesa, San Marcos and Del Mar, even as the last one faces supply issues of its own.

Scripps Health, which runs the Del Mar site, announced Friday the super station will be closed on March 27 and 28, due to the low number of COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered.

Fletcher said the county would like to cooperate with UCSD on vaccine sites in the future, indicating a future one is expected at the San Diego Convention Center once the supply of vaccines increases and occupancy at the other several dozen sites begins to fill.