County Vaccination site
San Mateo County has opened a vaccination clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center, however it is only open for people who have been specifically invited to get a shot there. Photo courtesy San Mateo County

The San Mateo County Event Center opened this week as a mass vaccination clinic, but only to qualifying health care workers who have registered in advance.

While efforts to open up vaccination to larger groups are underway across the state, the Event Center is open only to people who were provided the sign-up form by their health care provider or directly from the county, according to San Mateo County Chief Communications Officer Michelle Durand, who provided information to the Review on Monday via email.

“County Health is providing this resource to supplement the efforts of hospitals, clinics and care facilities to ensure that everyone eligible for Phase 1a can be vaccinated,” Durand wrote. “The vaccine clinics this week at the Event Center are not open to the public.”

The site is expected to reach its capacity of 960 participants on Monday, county Public Information Officer Preston Merchant wrote. According to a report from Bay City News, it is set to operate from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday this week.

Other published reports included a county-branded sign-up form that asks eight questions, including participant’s name, occupation, contact information and employer. The form also requires participants to confirm, under penalty of perjury, they are eligible for the 1a tier, are currently providing in-person patient services and live or work in San Mateo County. They also are required to confirm under penalty of perjury that they received the link directly from their employer or from the San Mateo County Health Department and will not share the sign-up form.

Durand confirmed that eligible residents cannot use the form to sign up until they have been contacted directly.

“Health care providers utilizing the clinics will contact potentially eligible members and provide a form to attest to their eligibility,” Durand wrote. “Residents cannot proactively submit the form otherwise and should not head to the Event Center without approval and advanced registration.”

Although it is closed to the public now, the vaccination site may be key to ramping up vaccination efforts as eligibility for the vaccine expands.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a press conference on Monday that mass vaccination sites will be established across the state in the coming weeks as part of an effort to scale up vaccine administration statewide. Created this week are sites at Dodgers Stadium and PetCo Park, where the San Diego Padres play in Southern California, and Cal Expo in Sacramento, with “many more to come,” Newsom said.

By Monday, 2.4 million doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines had been shipped to California, but just under 800,000 had been administered. Newsom set a goal last week to have an additional 1 million doses administered by this weekend.

“The reason we set a goal of 1 million is we are sending an urgent call across the spectrum … an all-hands-on-deck approach to the equitable and safe distribution of vaccines,” Newsom said.

Newsom said that to ensure no vaccine doses go to waste, California is expanding the pool of who can be vaccinated, allowing health care workers to move to later priority groups, like those 75 and older and teachers, if no one from higher tiers is available. The state is also allowing expanded groups, including public health nurses, dentists, paramedics and pharmacists, to administer the vaccine.

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