New COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at southwest Fresno middle school

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new vaccination clinic launched on Thursday at Gaston Middle School in Southwest Fresno -- but you can't make appointments online.

Organizers say they want to make sure there are no barriers, including a technology divide, that could keep people from getting their vaccines. So instead, they set up a hotline.

Sheila Dickson's been waiting for this vaccine since the onset of the pandemic. She is one of the first people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the new clinic set up at Fresno's Gaston Middle School.

"My work isn't done yet. I'm trying to live; I want to be 105 when I go away from here," Dickson said.

At 66, she says she's not just getting the shot for herself. She says, "I'm doing it for everybody and to show everybody it's alright to do it because a lot of people are scared to do it."

Like Sheila, Carolyn Forest says outside of the wait, the process was easy.

"I was waiting on Kaiser, couldn't get into Kaiser. I live on the next block, so this was perfect. I started to walk," she said..

Carolyn says in addition to her mask and social distancing, this added layer of protection brings her peace of mind when going to the store.

Fresno County chose this campus as the location of its newest vaccine site because it's in the heart of 93706 zip code

"We have high co-morbidities in this zip code and we know people of color in this area have high rates of health disparities," said African American Coalition Director Shantay Davies-Balch.

They aimed for a targeted grassroots effort t-- partnering with churches, community-based organizations and Fresno Unified -- on top of offering a phone number instead of online registration.

Davies-Balch said, "When it comes to access, we know as soon as a link is available, those who do have more access, transportation or a higher level of computer literacy, they can snatch that appointment right up."

Advocates say they're also working to help residents overcome fear of the unknown.

"That can be true across race, age, all types of demographics. We do know in the black community, there is a history of medical mistrust," Davies-Balch said. "So again, that goes back to our grassroots campaign in terms of outreach and education."

More than 200 vaccination appointments are available per day at Gaston middle school. There, you can make your appointment for the second dose.

The Gaston vaccine clinic is going on Thursday and Friday.

Because this was a soft opening, next week's hours will be determined based on vaccine availability, but by calling the vaccine support line to express your interest and get registered, you'll be first to know.

For more information, call 559-312-8044.
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