Mobile COVID Vaccine Clinic in Oakland Highlights Equity Concerns

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Thanks to a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic, hundreds more people were vaccinated in West Oakland Friday, one of the area's hardest hit by the virus.

But there is some concern that many of the people who showed up are not members of the community that so desperately needs access to the vaccine. And in some cases, included people who maybe should not have been in line at all.

The line wrapped around Mount Zion Baptist Church started in the wee hours of the morning with some waiting eight hours to get the vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pastor Michael Wallace, whose church hosted the clinic, said the main target was to vaccinate the area’s Latinx and African-American community, but that’s not exactly what happened. 

“We circulated it only in our community,” he said. “Our flyer went viral so word got out.”

But some who got the vaccine said they weren’t sure whether they were eligible. But they say they took a chance, were approved, and got a number to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the mobile site. 

“I want my life back,” said Shamieka Preston. “I have an aunt with cancer I want to see so that’s why it’s worth it.”

The Estavillos said the vaccine administrators only asked for ID to show they were at least 18 in order to get the shot. No other verification.

“Hopefully others will be protected because we are,” they said.

But CAL OES disputes that, saying the site is requiring eligibility codes and people must sign a notice certifying that they are eligible before receiving the vaccine. 

In the largely minority neighborhood, the pastor estimates only about 30% of those who received vaccines here this week are black and 70% caucasian. 

“We’re going to re-huddle put flyers on all the doors and stores,” said Wallace.

But he's happy the vaccine isn't being wasted.

“If they don’t come and get it, then I want someone who wants it to get it,” he said.

One neighbor says she hopes if this pop-up site comes back, the elderly will know that they can go to the front of the line instead of waiting hours for the shot.

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