BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Fairgrounds will be used as a mass vaccination site in the coming weeks and months, according to leaders with the Kern County Department of Public Health.
300 people are set to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday as health officials initiate a “soft launch.” While the department plans to vaccinate a few hundred people per day during the start of the vaccination effort, officials said they hope to eventually vaccinate roughly 5,000 people per day.
“This is the answer,” said Kern County Public Health Technology Services Manager Tom Beckett. The answer to getting back to normal is vaccinations,” he continued.
HOW TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT:
For now, no walk-ups will be allowed; residents must call 661-321-3000 to make an appointment.
PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY:
- Anyone 65 or older
- Healthcare workers
- First responders
People who receive the vaccine will need to park in the parking lot on P street across from the main entrance. Inside the property, barricades will be set up to guide people to the outside area where the vaccines will be distributed. After distribution, patients will enter Building 3 where they are set to be monitored for 15 minutes to ensure no immediate side effects.
“There will be multiple staff throughout the room observing,” Beckett said. “There will be a paramedic always on staff in here to respond to any possible issues.”
“We put a lot of work and have a lot of great people working on this. I think we are ready to go,” he concluded.
Organizers said they hope to conduct drive-up vaccination appointments in the future.
KCDPH is also using the fairgrounds to help with contact tracing; a fully-staffed contact tracing center is set up inside one of the buildings on site. KCDPH temporarily hired roughly 44 CSU Bakersfield nursing students to help call COVID-positive patients and people with whom they may have come in contact, per KCDPH leaders.
“It’s extremely important for us to reach out to contacts as soon as possible, so we can reach out to them and let them know that they have been identified as a close contact of covid-19 and they need to immediately self isolate,” said Kern Public Health Assistant Director Brynn Carrigan, noting each contact requires an average of four to five calls.
Adjacent to the contact tracing center, officials have set aside equipment to transform the building into an alternative care site (ACS) that can hold up to 200 beds in the event local hospitals fill up.
Public Health Director Matt Constantine said he remains hopeful the ACS is not needed.