San Diego County opening vaccination site at Viejas Arena

Chair+of+the+San+Diego+County+Board+of+Supervisors+Nathan+Fletcher+announced+Viejas+Arena+at+SDSU+would+open+as+a+vaccination+site+on+March+23.+

Alexa Oslowski

Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher announced Viejas Arena at SDSU would open as a vaccination site on March 23.

Angela Kurysh

by Alexa Oslowski, Photo Editor

Starting on March 23, Viejas Arena will become San Diego County’s newest vaccine site, according to an email sent by San Diego State President Adela de la Torre. On Monday, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher held a press conference at Viejas Arena announcing the county’s partnership with SDSU.

“The opening of a robust vaccination site at this well-known location offers an important expansion of our ability to not only administer vaccines but to ensure an equity-based focus, to make sure that the communities who have been historically left behind and not had unique plans and processes in place, ensure their access to public health,” Supervisor Fletcher said.

Project SAVE (Scheduling Assistance for Vaccine Equity) is a pilot program created to help get those in eligible vaccine groups and most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications vaccinated according to the County News Center

Ten percent of the appointments at this site will be set aside for Project SAVE. This has been a successful program engaging with community-based organizations to reach those participating communities, and ensure they have direct access into the system,” Supervisor Fletcher said. “They need some direct engagement from someone who knows the community, who speaks the language, who can answer to questions and issues and walk through the vital public health importance of getting a vaccine.”

Andrea Dooley, SDSU’s Associate Vice President for Health, Well-Being & Accessibility, Ramah Awad from the Majdal Center who represents the San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition and Najla Ibrahim, director of health and wellness at the Somali Family Service of San Diego also spoke regarding how this new site supports their communities who were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“This is an important moment for our continued and long-standing partnership with San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. We are very thankful for this partnership,” Dooley said. “Together at San Diego State University and in our community, we are continuing this critical outreach. We are encouraging and offering testing, vaccinations, and providing critical information to support the health and well-being of our entire community.”

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The hardwood floored basketball courts are replaced by concrete as Viejas Arena prepares to begin administering up to 1,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine a day when fully operational and supply allows. (Alexa Oslowski)

Viejas area will open with around 200 appointments every day, with preparation to increase that number to 750 and eventually to 1,500, as the county receives the supply to do so. Viejas Arena’s hours for administering vaccines will be Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Communities that historically have the least access into our normal healthcare systems have a culturally competent appropriate way through trusted messengers to be able to access our vaccine network,” Supervisor Fletcher said. “We are so incredibly grateful to San Diego State University, to our community partners, to our healthcare system partners and to everyone who has helped us come together.”

SDSU is already administering COVID-19 vaccinations through Student Health Services, however, the Viejas Arena site, unlike Calpulli Center, will offer vaccination appointments to the general public. 

The Viejas Arena site is now one of 29 overseen by the County and San Diego-area health care systems like UC San Diego Health, SHARP, Scripps. The county with the help of these partnerships has administered over 1.4 million doses to San Diego County residents to date.

An interactive map to find county vaccination sites can be found here. To determine if you are eligible for the vaccine, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/.

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