Family End of Summer Palooza Provides Free COVID-19 Vaccines
The Grossmont Healthcare District hosted an "Family End of Summer Palooza" in La Mesa on Wednesday in an effort to prepare East County families for a return to in-person schooling.
The three-day event, which began Tuesday, included a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted by Family Health Centers of San Diego.
Erica Salcuni, director of programs and outreach at the Grossmont Healthcare District, said activities such as face painting and balloon animals were meant to draw families in — but that the real focus of the event was getting more people vaccinated.
"The best way to strengthen our community’s defense against this virus and get back to normal is to get vaccinated," Salcuni said.
Wednesday's event had health care tents, giveaways, arts and crafts and a storytime with volunteers and dogs from the nonprofit Love On A Leash.
"We saw a lot of relief in parent’s faces as they were able to get their kids just a little extra support to be healthy and ready to learn with the free backpacks and some of the other resources we had from clinics and health plans," Salcuni said.
Back in January, the location served as a vaccine superstation for local health care workers that gave shots to roughly 1,000 people per day.
"We were ready to go ahead and introduce another (vaccine) opportunity for the community, knowing that there's still some work to do to get the virus at bay," Salcuni said.
Joselyn Reyes, a sophomore at El Cajon Valley High School, said she was happy to see the event offer vaccines.
"I got the vaccine because recently my grandpa died from COVID and I thought that it would prevent anyone else from dying," she said.
Reyes added that she feels safer going back to school now that she's fully vaccinated.
"I don’t want any of my classmates to die," Reyes said.
The End of Summer Palooza continues Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Briercrest Park in La Mesa, with the YMCA hosting a group workout for all ages.