Santa Clara County has a new goal to vaccinate 85 percent of its eligible population by June 15, so it has teamed up with the San Jose Earthquakes to encourage the remaining quarter to get inoculated.
On Friday, Earthquakes players including local legend Ramiro "El Capitan" Corrales who played on the San Jose soccer team from 1996 to 2013, will be at the vaccine site at Overfelt High School.
There, residents receiving their shot can win signed jerseys by current players throughout the day and get autographs by Corrales starting at 6 p.m. It is the latest development in the Earthquakes' and county partnership.
"We're here today to support the county, as we continue to push for more people to get vaccinated and get more access to vaccinations," Earthquakes Executive Vice President Jed Mettee said at a Monday news conference at PayPal Park. "We're excited to do so, so we can bring the community back together and also bring a full stadium capacity, which we're planning to do, hopefully in the summer."
Defender Oswaldo Alanis, a famous Mexican soccer player who joined the Quakes in 2020, echoed the sentiment.
Alanis shared that in many different countries, vaccines are not widely available like they are in Santa Clara County, so residents should take advantage of this opportunity.
"For the Hispanic people especially, (I want to say) the vaccine is safe and effective," Alanis said. "It is something good for everyone because we want to be here with all the fans in the stadium."
So far, more than three-fourths of the county's population 12 years and older has had at least one shot and six out of ten people in the county are fully vaccinated, said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer. The county also has a positivity rate below 0.5 percent.
"That's extremely low," Fenstersheib said. But he noted that there is still an issue with racial and income disparities in terms of vaccination rates and access to vaccine.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said some of the vaccine hesitation is because of misinformation while for others compounding access issues make it hard to make time to get a vaccine shot.
"Some have a concern about missing work," Chavez said. Transportation and child care are also issues. "So part of our obligation I think is to figure out how best we can really serve these communities."
To Chavez, this partnership with the Earthquakes is one of the many techniques to do so.
The county is also offering walk-up vaccinations at many sites and is going door-to-door in the hardest-hit census tracks to get people their shots.
About half of the Hispanic population in the county has not been vaccinated yet, despite making up majority of COVID cases over the last 14 months, according to county data.
In comparison, about 10 percent of the Asian population and 39 percent of the White population is unvaccinated, county data shows. The county is offering walk-up vaccinations at multiple sites and has expanded hours into the weekends and after work to help accommodate more residents.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is also offering free transit to those heading to and from their vaccine appointments. And for residents who are home-bound, the county has teamed up with the VTA and first responders to offer free round-trip transportation to vaccine appointments.
The vaccine site at Overfelt High School will be open Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The San Jose Earthquakes also said a pop-up site at PayPal Park is also in the works.
To learn more about vaccinations, sign up for services or book a vaccine appointment, residents can visit www.sccfreevax.org or call 211.