race for a vaccine

Oakland Coliseum Site Responsible for Half a Million Peoples' Vaccinations

The mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum.
NBC Bay Area

Roughly half a million people will have been vaccinated at the Oakland Coliseum by the time its vaccination site closes this weekend, officials with the Coliseum's joint powers authority said Friday.

The mass vaccination site at the Coliseum is expected to close Sunday, enabling the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency to pivot its resources toward vaccinating areas that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and remain at higher risk for new coronavirus cases.

"At its busiest point, there were 1,000 people working out there at the Coliseum, and that was most of the time from mid-February up until probably April, maybe even early May," Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Henry Gardner said Friday morning to the JPA's Board of Commissioners.

"So it was a beehive of activity and a very complex operation," he added.

The state's Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency opened the Coliseum vaccination site in February as part of an effort to establish 100 large-scale sites nationwide during President Joe Biden's first 100 days in office.

The site was on track to close April 11 after it was announced that federal personnel would conclude their work at the Coliseum, leading Alameda and Contra Costa counties to begin jointly operating the site with Cal OES.

Gardner said that the roughly 500,000 people that have been vaccinated at the Coliseum does not include residents that have been vaccinated via mobile clinics deployed from the Coliseum site.

"I think it would be safe to say that the work we did to get this site open for vaccination ... the sheer number of people that we got vaccinated, much more quickly than would otherwise have happened, has made a real difference and saved lives," Oakland Vice Mayor and Coliseum Authority Board Vice Chair Rebecca Kaplan said.

State and federal officials had originally targeted a capacity to administer 6,000 doses per day at the site once it was fully operational.

According to Alameda County Supervisor and Coliseum Authority Board Chair Nate Miley, roughly 8,000 doses were being administered per day at the Coliseum at its peak.

"By the time the county took over full operation on May 10, it was maybe down to 4,000 doses a day," Miley said. "Overnight, it went to 400 a day, and that's one of the big reasons why we decided on May 23 we'd be shutting down the site because it was being totally underutilized. And this wasn't a phenomenon just in Alameda County, it was being seen at other mega sites as well."

Across Alameda County, 1,731,409 vaccine doses have been administered since vaccines became available in mid-December.

More than 1.02 million residents have received at least one dose, equal to 75.6 percent of the county's population of people age 16 and older.

"It has been quite a ride, and an enormously complex operation," Gardner said. "And, thanks to the good work of our county health department, Cal OES, Department of General Services and FEMA, a very successful collaborative effort."

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