SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A roller rink at San Jose's Eastridge Mall became Santa Clara County's latest mass COVID-19 vaccination site Friday, the third to open in one of the county's hardest hit areas.
The clinic located at the mall's Aloha Roller Rink aims to offer up to 2,000 vaccinations a day once the state supplies enough vaccine, officials said.
"Locating a mass vaccination site in East San José is how we will vaccinate our residents and workers who have been infected by COVID-19 in much higher numbers," said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
Aloha Roller Rink was only in operation for 16 months before it was shut down during the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions last March. The carpeted area of the rink is being used for check-ins, registrations and administering shots, while the rink itself is where patients will wait for several minutes for possible side effects.
Rink owner Liz Ruiz said by allowing the use of her rink for vaccinations, she hopes it will get the South Bay into the Yellow Tier quicker.
"Using my empty space to help everyone come and get their vaccine shots. I recognize that the more that we help you guys get your vaccine levels that we need, then the sooner we'll get to that Yellow Tier, and I'll be able to reopen again," Ruiz said at a news conference Friday.
The rink site joins large vaccination sites at the Emmanuel Baptist Church and Valley Health Center East Valley on McKee Road in providing the shots to an area that has seen the county's highest rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
As of Friday, the rink is operating as a walk-in clinic, offering shots to eligible individuals who received tickets. Initial capacity is 500 vaccinations per day.
"It will make my life a lot better, a lot more comfortable, it will take a lot of anxiety away," said Miguel Castillo of San Jose
Officials said the new clinic would operate seven days a week starting Monday, March 10, offering a blend of appointments and drop-in availability. Evening appointments will also be offered.
As the county continues to expand vaccine access, officials said supply remains an issue and that they received fewer shots than expected from the state this week. Following the lower than anticipated allocation, the county said no new appointments would be available from March 7-13. Officials said they are working to ensure vaccine availability for all those who have appointments next week.
"We're working hard get the vaccine to those who need it most," said County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith. "Vaccines are the County's number one priority right now; vaccines will save lives. But our primary challenge continues to be getting the vaccine supply we need to protect those at greatest risk."
County officials said they have been vaccinating up to 12,000 people per day through large vaccination sites, clinics, as well as vocation-based sites for educators and agricultural workers.
The Aloha Roller Rink site will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday. Free Valley Transportation Authority bus service is being offered to and from Eastridge Mall for the vaccination site.
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