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UC San Diego’s Vaccine Superstation Closes

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UC San Diego sponsored the first large vaccination venue in San Diego at Petco Park. It was later moved to the RIMAC arena when the Padres baseball season began and now it has closed its doors.

Speaker 1: 00:00 UC San Diego health calls it the end of an era. There are vaccines Superstation at Remack arena, which began as the county's first large vaccination site at Petco park gave its final shot on Tuesday. The volume of people needing or wanting vaccinations has plummeted. And officials say this kind of large vaccination site is just not needed anymore. As other big VAX venues run by sharp and Scripps health prepare to close this month. The emphasis turns to mobile units, pharmacies and more ordinary medical settings to distribute vaccinations. Johnnie Mae is San Diego union Tribune, medical reporter, Paul Sisson, and Paul. Welcome for me, there was a time, not that long ago that people would stay up at night on the computer trying to get an appointment at UC San Diego's vaccination Superstation. So is this shrinking vaccination pool, a sign of success,

Speaker 2: 00:57 Certainly in a way, you know, we're, we're getting very close to 2 million people who have had at least one dose, uh, and that I don't see how you could see that as anything but a victory. Uh, however, we're just not quite there yet in terms of what they estimate to be the number we need to really breakthrough to, to herd immunity, this idea that it's hard for, uh, an infection to spread very far in a community of people. Uh, they say we need to get to about 2.1 million people in San Diego county to reach that state. Uh, and we're, we're still over a hundred thousand shy.

Speaker 1: 01:33 And what about the vaccine superstations stations run by sharp and Scripps health? Have they also experienced a fall off in people wanting shots?

Speaker 2: 01:41 Oh, they definitely have. Uh, I talked to Scott Evans, the CEO of sharp Grossmont hospital in Lamesa, uh, late last week. And he said, you know, we were seeing thousands of appointments coming in every day and our we're seeing hundreds. Uh, and definitely the volume is much, much less than it was. Uh, but they are remaining open. Uh, they're kind of seeing exactly how they are going to make this transition during the month of June. And it looks like they'll probably hold off for the next few weeks and kind of see how things change before they transitioned to nearby clinics or pharmacies that they run within their system. Um, scripts is running the Del Mar uh, fairgrounds site, I guess, their agreement to use, uh, facilities down there for a driving, uh, vaccination operation run through June 30th. So they would have been transitioning away at that point.

Speaker 2: 02:32 Anyway, it's not quite clear exactly how they will, uh, you know, transfer new appointments. It seems like a lot of our health systems are really quite focused on trying to deliver as many vaccines as possible within, uh, the normal, uh, confines of, of doctor's offices and that type of a venue where you have patients speaking to their doctor and their doctor might say, Hey, I noticed you haven't been vaccinated yet. Can we take care of that for you while you're here today with us, maybe for some other reason, like a routine checkup or for a specific healthcare problem.

Speaker 1: 03:08 So which groups of San Diego ones are lagging behind in getting vaccinated and what kind of efforts are being made to boost those numbers?

Speaker 2: 03:18 You know, we've seen very good vaccination uptick, uh, in the south, the Southern part of the county. Uh, we we've seen a little slower uptake, uh, out east and, and maybe even to some degree along the coast, uh, perhaps up in north county, uh, you know, not, not a massive lag behind, but maybe it's just slightly less uptake. Uh, you know, there, there still are quite a few fears out there, uh, about various rumors. Uh, you know, we saw the San Diego Padres, uh, players indicate, uh, over a week ago that they were concerned about fertility issues. Kaiser polls are indicating that more than half of Americans believe at least one piece of inaccurate information about vaccines. So the, you know, there are still a lot of talk about whether or not this vaccine has been fully tested well enough, even though we've, we've had over 150 million Americans already receiving at least one dose. And what about

Speaker 1: 04:13 The vaccination lottery announced by governor Newsome last week where you can win up to $1.5 million if you've had one shot, could that possibly cause a surge in vaccinations?

Speaker 2: 04:24 We're all wondering, you know, it really seems like it might, uh, you know, oftentimes people get wrapped up in, uh, this type of thing. I mean, if you think back to large power ball jackpots, you do see lots of folks coming out at the last minute to buy their laundry tickets. Uh, so I think logic kind of makes you feel, gosh, that could happen here. Uh, they will be doing the drawings for a 10, $1.5 million winners on June 15th, uh, the very day that the state's reopening blueprint system goes away. Uh, so all of these healthcare planners are definitely wondering, are we going to see a large number of folks come out at the last minute and roll up their sleeves and get their first dose? So they're eligible for that drawing. You know, it seems like we will still have a fair amount of Supercenter capacity available on June 15th and before.

Speaker 2: 05:17 Uh, certainly, uh, sharp and Scripps are, are both indicating that they will still have some, uh, Superstation capacity up and running. So there should be enough to absorb a pretty big surge, but what I think it's, it's a little up in the air in terms of exactly what's going to happen. How many folks are going to get motivated. I, I looked at the state numbers yesterday and, uh, it's a little unclear whether the state numbers lag quite a ways behind reality, but we certainly didn't have a huge number coming forward over the weekend, at least in the, uh, the numbers that were posted by the state. Uh, but that certainly could change after Memorial day weekend. Uh, when you could think that perhaps a lot of the stations were probably not booking up with appointments because people were out celebrating, know people

Speaker 1: 06:02 Talk about the vaccination rate. Plateauing is the daily number of new cases also plateauing, or does that continue to fall in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 06:12 You know, we've seen a pretty steady rate. We drop below 100 cases per day for a while, and then kind of came back up over 100 again. But then, uh, now for the last three days in a row, we've been significantly under a hundred new cases a day, uh, so that it does feel like we're settling into a very little low level of COVID activity in our local community. And we're certainly seeing that nationwide as well. I guess there's really no reason why we should be any different than the nation as a whole, which in most places is seeing a very, very low levels of activity. Paul,

Speaker 1: 06:47 If someone listening has decided, yes, I want to get vaccinated. Where would you suggest is the best and most seamless option for them right now?

Speaker 2: 06:54 You know, if you have, uh, access to the internet, which most people do, I suppose you can just go on the, my turn website that the state runs, and it will show you all the different places you can get vaccinated. Uh, and then you don't really even need to make an appointment. In most cases you can just wander on in and get one, a lot of local pharmacies, CVS, for example, uh, offer walk-up vaccinations. So, uh, you know, it's pretty much everywhere at this point. Uh, you know, people are going to be falling over themselves to put a shot in your arm at this point. So, uh, shouldn't be much trouble at all. Okay.

Speaker 1: 07:29 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, medical reporter, Paul Sisson, Paul. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.