CALIPATRIA — Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District (PMHD) took their mobile COVID-19 clinic to Calipatria Friday, March 12, to help those who could not make it to the other Valley vaccination clinics previously. PMHD officials recognized the limitations of the vaccine distribution in Imperial County and as a result, decided to develop a mobile vaccine plan.

PMHD’s Ryan Kelley, associate administrator for support services, commented on their latest COVID-19 efforts. 

“We’re taking the vaccine to those that cannot get out of their communities to receive their shots,” said Kelley. “We were able to go to Bombay Beach and Westmorland on Thursday, March 11. We administered over 300 vaccines. Here in Calipatria, we will give another 300, mainly to those over 65 and essential service workers, like agricultural workers, educators, and first responders.”

Standing in a line that wrapped around the make-shift clinic were Joe and Juanita Lopez and their special needs 53-year-old son.

Joe Lopez spoke about his family’s frustration in getting to a clinic, especially trying to help their son.

“We would hear about a vaccination clinic, call as soon as we heard, only to be told all the spots were filled. This happened over and over again,” he said.

Juanita Lopez agreed, saying in desperation they called their go-to person in Calipatria, Maria Nava-Froelich, director of the Calipatria Family Resource Center, who now sits on the City Council.

“She told us Dr. Vo in Brawley was having a clinic, so we called and got in,” Joe Lopez said. “But they wouldn’t take our son, because he is younger than 65. We didn’t tell them he was special needs, maybe that would have made a difference.”

So now the elderly couple waited in line with their son, anxious to get him his first shot. It had only been two weeks since the couple’s first vaccine, so they did not get their second at the clinic as it was only giving first shots Friday.

Karina Lopez, PMH public affairs liaison, was also on hand documenting the clinic, and said both shots were exactly the same. The staff takes everyone’s temperature, contact information, and reaches out to them to set up the second dose. 

The vaccines administered through the mobile COVID-19 clinics are only for the first of the two shots. The second shots are usually done at the PMHD clinic.

According to PMHD CEO Larry Lewis, the mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics are a joint effort between PMHD, community groups, and agencies like police, fire, and city officials to vaccinate an entire community.

“Our objective is to reach those underserved communities of Imperial County in order to provide a safe and secure environment for them to receive the vaccine,” said Lewis.

PMHD will wrap up its mobile clinic efforts in Calipatria this week and will hit the road again next week.

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