San Diego County shifting COVID-19 testing, vaccinations to mobile clinics
San Diego County officials said they had been seeing lower demand for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, so they recently closed the Jacobs Center vaccination site in Southeast San Diego and are moving operations to county clinics and mobile teams.
Those who are looking for COVID-19 tests may also notice changes at state-funded testing sites: People will be offered a rapid antigen test first, and, if results are positive, then a PCR lab test. Appointments are suggested, but not required. There are seven sites across San Diego County, with the busiest being the old recycling center in Linda Vista at University of San Diego (USD).
USD student Airion Medina was waiting in line Thursday for a rapid test.
"I think someone in my class tested positive and they want me to get tested just in case," Medina said.
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Medina is hoping that, despite lower demand, testing sites such as the one near USD will stay open.
"I think they should keep it free because some people need places to get COVID tests and rapid tests are so hard to find," he said. "So I think this is good for them to have."
Despite federal COVID-19 funding running out, county and state officials said pandemic services would be continuing, free of charge.
"The county remains committed to providing no-cost vaccinations and testing across the region, but recognize that most people now get these services elsewhere," San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
Still, some people like the flexibility of publicly funded testing sites.
"Just seems like the county sites are spread out over San Diego and if you don't need an appointment it’s easier to do a walk in," said Mary Feifel, who was also getting tested in Linda Vista on Thursday.
Feifel is traveling internationally soon and needs the test. She first checked a large health care provider, but they did not have appointment times that worked for her.
"Even when you pay for a testing site, you have to make an appointment and you might not get the date and place you want to get," she said.
Feifel is grateful that the county offers PCR tests, because those are required for many forms of travel.
"I’m going to do the PCR," she said. "I’ve done antigen tests at home, so that’s not necessary."
Currently only about 10% of the region's vaccinations are happening at county sites. The bulk of them are given at pharmacies, hospitals and clinics.
"Which is really looking to go to the model that we’ve always had: We’re the safety net for those most in need in the community," San Diego County's chief nursing officer, Denise Foster, told KPBS last week.