CSUB vaccine hub extends offer to those 16 and older and to non-Kern residents

Ellen Kommel

Damian Lopez and Michael Canelo

People wait in the observation room after being vaccinated at CSU Bakersfield’s mass vaccination site on April 5, 2021. Photo by Ellen Kommel/The Runner

   According to a news release from Kern County Public Health Services Department, beginning April 5, all Kern County residents 16 years and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Eligibility opened because residents voiced confusion about the eligibility and because the number of vaccination appointments dropped. 

  CSUB’s Vaccination Hub soft-launched on March 26 and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments are made via myturn.ca.gov or through walk-ins. Residents can also make an appointment by calling the Public Health Call Center at 661-321-3000.  

  The hub offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective, making it the most effective vaccine between the three available. 

  Although the hub is open for all Kern County residents and CSUB students, including international and DACA students, the hub also accepts visitors from outside of Kern. Three people leaving the vaccination hub told The Runner they came from Los Angeles to get their vaccine. 

  “We were actually up here for my friends birthday so when we got up here, they let us know that this was happening here,” said Ruben Partida of Los Angeles. 

We heard that they were welcoming people due to the discrepancies between how many doses they had and how many people were showing up,” said another resident from Los Angeles. 

View of CSUB’s mass vaccination hub in action on April 5, 2021. Photo by Ellen Kommel/The Runner

  Actor Wil Wheaton, known for their role in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a Los Angeles county resident, posted on their Facebook page on April 3 that he received their first vaccination at CSUB’s Vaccination Hub. 

  “There’s a vaccination site in Bakersfield, about 90 minutes north of LA that has hundreds of extra Pfizer. They have so much going unused; they are accepting walk-ins from LA! They just want to get as many people jabbed as possible, so we made the drive, and I got my first shot! There’s hardly anyone here. It’s not a bad drive, and the entire process was simple and streamlined,” wrote Wheaton. 

  On April 5 in an onsite interview with Kristin Weber, Interim Director of Public Affairs and Brand Communication for Kaiser Permanente, she said the facility is equipped to deal with fluctuations between days when there are more walk-ins than appointments and vice versa. 

  When asked about those outside of Kern County looking to get their vaccine at CSUB’s hub, Weber said, “I know that we have seen people, but you can’t make an appointment on MyTurn.CA.gov if you’re outside of the county, so those people are only coming in as walk-ins…So obviously the vaccine hub is available to anyone who meets the criteria but really we are trying to get as many Kern County residents vaccinated as possible.”  

  Weber said the goal is to operate as efficiently as possible while minimizing the number of vaccines that spoil, with “maybe one” vaccine going to waste since the hub has been in operation. She said they have gone as far as pulling people in off the street so that vaccines do not go to waste.  

  The hub can vaccinate up to 5,400 people a day. Weber said they vaccinated about 1,100 people on Friday, April 2, and over 2,000 people on Saturday, April 3, but expects that number to increase now that those 16 and over are eligible in Kern County. 

Video remote interpretation device available to those vaccinated at CSUB’s mass vaccination hub. Photo by Ellen Kommel/The Runner

  “When you walked up it was just a trickle-in of traffic and now there are people constantly coming through – all the registration lines are being used,” said Weber. 

  All visitors are asked to wear a mask, bring a photo ID, and if under 18 years old, have a guardian present. Vaccinations are free and no insurance is needed to receive the vaccinations. Those with appointments are asked to show up 15min before.  

  Video remote interpreting devices are available at the hub for those who either speak or sign a different language. These devices connect users to a live person who can translate the vaccine information and process it for them.  

  The process takes about 40 to 60 minutes, including post-vaccination monitoring. Visitors enter the vaccination hub through Don Hart Dr from Stockdale Hwy and park in lots K1 or K2. People can walk to the entrance of the hub at the Student Recreation Center or wait for a cart available to transport them. 

  At the entrance of the SRC visitors are asked if they have experienced any COVID-19 related symptoms or if they have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, and then have their temperatures checked. 

  Once inside, visitors wait in line for one of the several registration booths. After registration, visitors are directed to what Weber called an “on-deck circle”, a sticker placed on the floor to indicate where someone waits to be called to one of the 36 vaccination stations. At the time, six out of the 36 stations were not in use 

  After visitors receive their vaccine, the nurse administering the vaccine gives them a sticker with the time they are allowed to leave the observation area. Once discharged by a nurse in the observation room, visitors can exit the hub.  

  Those receiving their first vaccination receive their vaccination card including the date of their next vaccination. For those who cannot return to CSUB’s hub for their next vaccination, they can make an appointment for a second Pfizer vaccination at another location. 

  “We try to make it a positive experience for folks. So, you’ll see balloons up, you’ll hear people talking about spreading hope and joy, and getting back to a life that can be celebrated that sort of thing,” said Weber. 

  The vaccination hub is expected to operate until mid to late June.