BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Public Health Department announced they'll be using the local fairgrounds as a mass vaccination site for residents.
Kern County's COVID-19 contact tracers are actively working to contact people throughout the county who have tested positive for COVID-19. But that's not the only support system here at the Kern County fairgrounds. Soon it will also serve as a mass vaccination site.
Tom Beckett, technology services manager of Kern County Public Health says "the answer to getting back to normal is vaccination, right? To get us to a point where life can return to what we are all wanting. So, it's super important, the more people that get vaccinated the quicker that we can get back to that."
On Wednesday Kern County Public Health will begin their soft launch of their mass vaccine distribution site, at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Currently, the site is not open to the public and only preselected groups will have access this week to get vaccines. 23ABC asked Michelle Corson the spokesperson for Kern County Public Health, how the groups were determined.
Michelle, spokesperson, Kern County Public Health said "we get many calls at our call center so we naturally were able to schedule some of them when our call centers started getting calls when the governor opened up the 65 and older category."
Corson also stated that a public notice will be released over the next few days to let residents know once the vaccination site is open to the public and how residents can begin making appointments online.
Once open to the public, residents will enter through the main gates of the fairgrounds to get an initial screening. Staff will ask residents questions such as if they have COVID symptoms and verify that residents have appointments and fall within the proper tiers for vaccination approval.
"After that process has been done they'll come into this serpentine area here were we can line everybody up and keep everybody social distanced. And then they can work their way up to the front which is where we will actually perform the vaccinations," said Beckett.
Public Health will spend the next four days vaccinating nearly 300 people per day with the help of 20 nurses. But they plan to expand that number to thousands.
"The goal is to grow this site up to 5,000 a day and as that grows not only is this walk-up section going to grow but we're going to be introducing a drive-up section," said Beckett.
Beckett adds that once more vaccines are distributed by the state the site will operate for 12 hours a day seven days a week and residents will be able to park in the P Street parking lot located across the street from the main gate for free.
For now, the Pfizer vaccine will be administered but public health officials stated that could change depending on the supply they receive from the state.
Vaccine recipients will be monitored by nurses and EMTs for safety as they wait.
Over the next several days public health will be releasing information about how residents can sign up to get the vaccination at the fairgrounds.