GILROY (KPIX 5 / BCN) -- A new COVID vaccination site opened Wednesday at Gilroy High School, Santa Clara County health officials announced.
The site will have the capacity to vaccinate about 1,000-2,000 residents per day in a city that has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
"I came out because my son lost his father a month ago from the coronavirus. And I don't want him to lose his mother," said Josie Potter who fulfilled her promise to her son to get vaccinated.
Nearly 12% of Gilroy's population has had COVID-19, said Deborah Flores, superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District.
According to the Public Health Department, Gilroy has the second highest infection rates in the county. In practical terms, roughly one out of every nine residents has caught the coronavirus.
"With such a high rate of community transmission, making vaccines available to our residents is essential in the fight against COVID-19," Flores said.
That's why she believes Gilroy High School is an excellent location to ensure vaccine access.
"[It] is a well-known site in the South County, with two large gyms, a large parking lot and it's very accessible," Flores said.
The site will operate as a walk-in site and will have mobility services available for those who need assistance getting from their car to inside.
A woman named Linda who secured one of the first appointments at the new Gilroy vaccination site.
"I think it's critical that we all get the vaccine. So, as soon as I was eligible to do it, then I scheduled it. And that's why I'm here," she told KPIX 5.
It is unclear how long the school will remain open for vaccinations, but county officials confirmed that it would not interfere with students returning to campus.
"We will find additional locations if needed to ensure that we're not interfering with any school operations," Dr. Jennifer Tong Associate Chief Medical Officer for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center said.
Currently, vaccinations are available to health care workers, residents 65 and older and those in long-term care facilities. But in a week, eligibility will expand to workers in childcare and education, emergency services, and food and agriculture.
This site is part of the county's efforts to provide adequate capacity to vaccinate all those who want it.
"Vaccinating our community as quickly and equitably as possible is the key to healing and returning to some sort of normalcy as soon as possible," says County Supervisor Mike Wasserman.
To learn more about vaccinations in Santa Clara County or to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit sccfreevax.org or call 211.
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