Vaccination pop-up at Ed Roberts Campus prioritizes accessibility

Photo of Ed Roberts Campus
Momoka Sasaki/File
A temporary vaccination site was hosted at the Ed Roberts Campus from Feb. 22 to 26 to provide further aid for Berkeley community members. The mobile vaccine clinic distributed about 280 vaccines to individuals at the Center for Independent Living.

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In an effort to provide aid to Berkeley community members unable to receive vaccine doses from mass vaccination sites, a mobile vaccine clinic was hosted last week at the Ed Roberts Campus, or ERC, for eligible groups to receive their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The temporary vaccination site ran from Feb. 22 to 26, initially distributing about 280 vaccines to members of the Center for Independent Living, or CIL, a local disability resource center, according to Kellen Sillanpaa, CIL executive assistant. Katie Hawn, coordinator for Berkeley’s Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, said the site broadened its appointment outreach to eligible individuals living or working in Alameda County on Feb. 23.

Facing a quick turnaround, CIL was notified it would be involved in the distribution only days before the clinic was set to take place. EOC and CIL employees then encountered issues with vaccine appointment and enrollment systems, resulting in employees manually screening eligibility information until they were able to successfully register people.

“It was a little hectic at first, but once we got through that and we got everyone on the same page, it went totally fine,” Sillanpaa said. “People were really happy with the efficiency of the clinic.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency worked in collaboration with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to provide the “skeletal support” in terms of the site being fully supplied, with responsibilities stated clearly for those working the site, according to Hawn. Low-income individuals, senior residents and those with disabilities were prioritized in the appointment process.

Hawn added that the ERC organized about 250 to 300 appointments each day and had approximately 35 to 40 people on-site to ensure a smooth process.

“The vaccine is this very exciting corner that we are all trying to turn, but it’s in such a limited supply that we have to prioritize it in a way that it’s going to those who could have the highest impact of disease or those who are responsible for keeping certain things like our medical systems, our hospitals running,” Hawn said. “At the end of the day, the big goal, as supply allows and we get further down the line in a few months, will be to get everyone vaccinated.”

While the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland is a widely used mass vaccination site, the ERC site addressed issues of accessibility that were seen at the coliseum. The ERC was an ideal location for the vaccination site due to its central position in the South Berkeley community, according to Eric Smith, ERC executive director.

The pop-up site will return in 21 days after the initial distribution to give second doses to those who received their first doses at the location.

“One of the things with vaccine distribution is that we’ve really had to balance the speed of getting vaccines out as quickly as possible but also understanding that great equity work takes time,” Hawn said.

Contact Isabella Ruiz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Isabella_Ruiz3.