FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The UCSF COVID-19 Equity Project is administering doses in Fresno to eligible patients with the intention of reaching equity in vaccine distribution.
The COVID-19 Equity Project, made up of several community-based organizations, has been essential in getting COVID-19 tests to those who are most vulnerable, and now they’re key in getting vaccines to them.
“I think it has helped that we’ve been in the community at least now for about a half a year going into these communities,” said. Dr. Kenny Banh, the director of the COVID-19 Equity Project & Mobile HeaL.
The site is located at 550 E. Shaw Ave. in Fresno, near Fashion Fair Mall.
“This type of place is the place where you can walk up and you can drive up and say ‘I qualify right now to get the vaccine, here is my proof’ and they will register you and that’s the type of site we need quite honestly to exist all over,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner with the COVID-19 Equity Project.
Pacheco-Werner added that mass vaccination sites are great for people who can navigate the internet, but for people who may be technologically disadvantaged, sites like these are more beneficial.
“For those that have trouble with that kind of stuff, this type of place is for you,” she said.
The UCSF COVID-19 Equity Project has been conducting COVID-19 tests for the last six months.
Pacheco-Werner said equity not only means more opportunity but also understanding that people come from different places and have different fears.
“We want to meet people where they’re at. ‘What questions do you have? What fears do you have? What have you been seeing on your WhatsApp group?'” she said. “If you see the staff here, they’re very diverse. They’re diverse in age, they’re diverse in race, language and that’s on purpose.”
María Silvia Gastélum got her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday.
“It’s been about five months since my brother died [from COVID-19],” she said. “What I would like is for there to be enough [doses] for everyone. For my whole family, for the whole world.”
On Tuesday, the Fresno County Department of Public Health announced that those who work in education, childcare, food, and agriculture will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 1. Restaurant and grocery workers fall into the food and agriculture group.
“We’re ready to help handle that because I honestly think that’s actually a really big part of our population,” Banh said.
Banh added that they’ve been ramping up their capacity for the last two weeks. Currently, they have the capacity to administer around 500 doses a day, he said.
The hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Banh said as long as there is supply and they are eligible, they won’t turn anyone away.