Large-scale clinic to vaccinate over 2,500 Merced County seniors

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced Community College's gymnasium is being transformed into the county's next large-scale vaccine clinic.

Starting Tuesday afternoon, the space will serve as the site where as many as 2,700 North Valley seniors receive the highly coveted COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinic will take place on three days next week and two days on the following week.

"We have got folks here every day working to get this setup," said Kelly Avila from Merced Community College. "We want this to be as efficient and easy as possible to access."

The vaccine supply for the clinic will be provided from within the community. Dignity Health and UC Merced are contributing excess vaccine doses.

"This is the biggest step to reopening, not just for Merced College but for our entire community," said Avila.

Organizers say it's an undertaking that wouldn't be possible without students and staff from the Allied Health Nursing Department at Merced College, who will volunteer their time to administer the shots.

RN student Michael Martinez was eager to step up to help protect seniors from the virus. After recently receiving his first dose of the vaccine, he's paying it forward.

"It's meaningful to me because I had COVID," he said. "I actually had it pretty bad and I don't want anybody else to get it."

Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel says the access will be a big relief for many who hoped to be vaccinated last month, before the county was forced to put a halt on first-time vaccines due to a shortage in supply.

"We are third in the state with the least amount per capita in vaccines," said McDaniel. "It's been a real struggle to get the kind of vaccines that we are needing."

McDaniel says while the county is logistically ready to administer large-scale clinics, there are not any additional vaccine shipments on the horizon from the state.

"We think mid-April to May we can hit that 80% goal that we want but we just need the vaccines," said McDaniel.

Health officials say you can visit Merced County's website to sign up for notifications on vaccine availability. The department will then contact you when it's your turn in line.

Seniors must be registered online or by phone. There will be no walk-up appointments. Those who receive vaccinations will be registered for their second dose immediately after the first dose is administered.
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