New Community-Based COVID Vaccine Sites in Oakland Try to Close Equity Gaps

Plus, more news you can use about the COVID vaccine

A closeup image of a young woman receiving a shot on her shoulder, with the person administering wearing latex gloves.
A woman receives a COVID vaccine at the Fremont High School site. Photo by Howard Dyckoff.

Alameda County opened its first community-based COVID-19 vaccination site at Fremont High School in East Oakland on February 4, while the state is partnering with local organizations to do direct outreach in neighborhoods and communities through mobile clinics. The Oakland Coliseum also continues to be one of two mega-vaccination sites in the state.

Before we look at these efforts, let’s look at the bigger picture. A total of 91,670 first doses have been given to those age 16 and up in Oakland and 349,402 in all of Alameda County, according to the county’s vaccination dashboard. That’s 27 percent of those age 16 and up in all of Oakland who have received a first dose, and 10 percent who have completed both doses in Oakland thus far. That is almost the exact average for the entire county at the moment, but there are areas in the county with extreme disparity. On the high rate of vaccination end, we have Piedmont with 45 percent of those 16 and older vaccinated with first doses, and 22 percent vaccinated with both doses, while Hayward Acres is the lowest at 17 percent with first doses and just under 8 percent with two doses. 

The disparities could be due to a variety of factors: access to technology, age, occupation, access to vaccine sites, and more. What we do know is that even with a large vaccination site in Oakland, there are also racial disparities. If you look at vaccines administered at the Oakland Coliseum, “About 41% of doses at the site have gone to white people, 20% have gone to Latinos and 4% have gone to Black residents. Asians made up 27% of vaccinations,” according to a recent article by the SF Chronicle

However, the mobile clinics have done a much better job reaching populations that have had the highest death rates from COVID by race. The vaccines given through mobile clinics have so far are: “33% of those vaccines have gone to Latinos, 25% have gone to Black people, 18% have gone to Asians and 17% have gone to white people,” according to the same article.

Below, we detail some of these community and neighborhood-based efforts to reach essential workers and neighborhoods with high rates of infection. Plus, some information about the next group eligible for vaccines starting March 15, which includes disabled and those with pre-existing conditions. And, some may be wondering: should I get a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID? Answers below.

MOBILE CLINICS RUN BY STATE AND FEMA

The mega-site at the Oakland Coliseum also has two mobile clinics and they are being used in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates and high rates of COVID infection. These locations are supported by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and FEMA. The state is partnering with community sites including Eastmont Mall last week and Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland this week. Brian May, a spokesman for OES, said that “the mobile units are returning to sites where first doses were given so residents can get their second dose in the same location.” The mobile clinics rotate locations (see list below). 

A spreadsheet listing the places where vaccines have or will take place in Alameda County.
Mobile COVID vaccine schedule.

One of the new COVID vaccine sites is True Vine Ministries, working in collaboration with LifeLong Medical Care. They will be open for vaccines this Friday through next Monday, 9am-4pm for at least the next four weeks. Call 510-549-5402 or 510-208-4565*. LifeLong Medical Care also plans to start going to homes of their patients who lack ability to come to a clinic or pop-up site, according to Dr. Tri Do of Community Health Center Network, who spoke at the county’s COVID vaccine advisory group meeting this week.

UMOJA HEALTH POP-UP VACCINE SITES

Umoja Health offers another grassroots approach, working with partner organizations. This past weekend, Umoja organized two vaccination sites offering both COVID testing and COVID vaccines. One location was across from Castlemont High School in the parking lot of Center of Hope Church in East Oakland. A second location was at the Eritrean Tewahedo Church on 54th Street in North Oakland. Umoja Health receives vaccines from the county and do direct outreach.

The group, led by Dr. Kim Rhoads, a leading clinician and epidemiologist from UCSF, started focusing on zip codes in deep East Oakland where infection rates were high. Going forward, a representative said that they plan to do COVID vaccines in the Ashland Cherryland area in San Lorenzo, and will continue to do pop-up COVID testing as well.

FREMONT HIGH SITE

The Fremont H.S. site opened February 4 and has administered more than 7,000 first doses, according to Neetu Balram, Public Information Manager for the Alameda County Public Health Department. 

This site prioritizes people who live in the area, which has one of the highest rates of COVID infection and is also where a lot of essential workers live. “We really are trying to get people who might not otherwise get access to a vaccination,” Balram said. “This is really intended to reach people who live in the community, the most impacted the folks who work in our grocery stores, who are taking care of our children.” She also urges that people who work from home and are less exposed to wait because “vaccine supply is still limited.”

The site is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. People can sign up for appointments through a direct invite or community outreach; there is also onsite registration for appointments. The priority zip codes are 94601, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94607, 94621. People who use this site must either reside in Alameda County—or work in Alameda county if they are qualifying because of their job. For walk-ups, if vaccines are not available that day, the person can schedule an appointment. The intention is to reach people who may not be able to sign up online.

The Fremont High School vaccines are administered inside the brand-new gymnasium, which was completed during the pandemic last fall, largely funded by Measure J, passed by Oakland voters in 2012. It is intended for people who fall in the tiers and phases, which is currently Phase 1A and 1B, Tier 1. That includes healthcare workers, food and agricultural workers, teachers and childcare workers, emergency workers, plus those over 65 years old (more will be eligible starting March 15; see below).

Oakland Unified School District spokesman John Sasaki noted that the school is a good location in the Fruitvale district, and is an important part of the community. “We wanted to make sure families that live and work in the community have a chance to be vaccinated.”

OTHER SITES, INCLUDING COMMUNITY HEALTH CLINICS


Community health clinics such as Asian Health Services, Native American Health Center, La Clinica de La Raza, and others, have all been involved in administering vaccines. For example, Asian Health Services, headquartered in Oakland Chinatown, has been providing vaccines to their patients and have vaccinated 4,000 with two doses so far in the less than two months they began. 

These sites emphasize cultural and linguistic competency, “which is more important than ever during this period so that limited English proficient communities are not left out,” said Thu Quach, Deputy Administration Chief at AHS. On one particular day, they vaccinated 1,000 people who represented 10 different languages. The clinic continues to offer COVID testing. “It is important to maintain these important safety practices, including testing, to control the spread of the virus, as we get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Quach added.

Starting March 15, People with Disabilities and Pre-existing Conditions Can Get Vaccine

close up of a small vial of COVID vaccine with a red cap.
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Momo Chang.

According to state guidelines, those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions can get their first doses of the COVID vaccines, for those 16 and older.

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease,  oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

OR

If as a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability one or more of the following applies:

  • The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability

If the person has a healthcare provider, the county recommends contacting your medical provider to discuss vaccine considerations for their specific conditions, and to schedule appointments. 

Should You Get a Vaccine if You’ve Had COVID?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says yes, because your natural immunity from the disease may have already worn off. However, people who currently have COVID should not get the vaccine while they have COVID, and should wait until their symptoms have resolved and until they have finished their isolation period, according the county. People who had COVID and were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma should wait at least 90 days before getting a COVID vaccine. 

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Howard Dyckoff has lived in Oakland for over 40 years and has been involved with many community groups, including Oakland Digital and Oakland Local, Block by Block, the East Oakland Boxing Association (EOBA), and CBE. A Brooklyn, New York, transplant, and an Aerospace Engineering graduate of NY Polytechnic, Howard also attended Laney College, where he wrote for the Laney Tower newspaper and was elected editor. Howard also attended the Starr King School at the Theological Union in Berkeley. He has served as the Berkeley Free Clinic’s Outreach Coordinator, and also worked as an information technology professional at Chevron, Sybase, and Wells Fargo. He worked in both the 2010 and 2020 Census. Howard has been a regular contributor to Oakland Local and online publications such as TechTarget and Linux Gazette and currently writes for Oakland Voices. He currently does event photography around the Bay Area.

*A previous version of the article listed the address on Isabella Street but the mobile clinic has moved.


About Momo Chang

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Alumni Coordinator. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). View all posts by Momo Chang →

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