Cars lined the parking lot of Elk Grove’s St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church on Jan. 19, as medical professionals, first responders, and people aged 65 years or older participated in a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru.
The vaccines were made available through advance appointments for people belonging to high priority groups in Sacramento County’s Tier-1 phase of its vaccination plan.
Because both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two shots, appointments were also made for the same people to return for their second shots on Feb. 16.
As a precautionary measure, everyone who received a COVID-19 vaccination shot at the event was asked to wait in their ar for 20 minutes in case they had an allergic reaction that required an epinephrine injection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone who had a severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine should not receive the second dose.
According to CDC, allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare.
Handling the administration of the six-hour, Jan. 19 event was Urgent Care Now of Sacramento.
Dr. Rusty Oshita, an emergency physician and the owner of Urgent Care Now, told the Citizen that the shots were given to people at the event through strict county and state guidelines.
“We will be able to vaccinate a little bit over 400 individuals today,” he said. “We’ve heard patient after patient say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to walk outside, hug my grandkids, to have my life back.’
“(It) will allow people to have the ability to get on with a reasonable amount of safety – obviously not 100% protection. But we think it’s pretty darn good. It’s pretty exciting times.”
Oshita added that the Moderna vaccine was administered at last week’s event, and that the Pfizer vaccine will probably be given to participants at the next vaccination event at the church.
Among those administering the shots was Sandra Delgadillo, a registered nurse from Roseville.
Delgadillo noted that she was proud to give people hope through vaccinations.
“I feel very proud to be a part of getting all the vaccines out to America, especially as a nurse working in a hospital with the COVID(-19) folks dying,” she said. “We really hate COVID(-19) in the hospital. We see it every day and we’ve seen it for way too long.
“I’ve been a nurse for 30 years. I’ve never seen it like this.”
Mary Hesser, a volunteer at this event, mentioned that she was pleased by the reaction to this temporary vaccine distribution site.
“Oh, my gosh, they’re so grateful,” she said. “Every (driver) I’ve talked to is just really, really truly grateful, and so excited to get the shot, and looking forward to getting the second dose.”
Julie Clear, a retired college professor, shared her gratitude for being able to receive her first vaccination shot.
“We are making history today and we were so grateful to be able to get an appointment and get here, and they made it seamless,” she said. “It was amazing. Did not get out of the car, they flagged us through every station, we brought a copy of our insurance and our license. Super easy. “We’ve tried to stay safe and healthy, and hopefully (the vaccinations are) going to help further, and we can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nancy Crary, a retired public health nurse, said she believes in the importance of getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
“My mother had diphtheria, whooping cough, and scarlet fever,” she said. “I mean, you know, we’re preventing disease here.”
Carol Bly additionally commented on her experience of receiving her first Moderna shot last week.
“This is so efficiently run,” she said. “We know that trying to orchestrate large scale efforts can be challenging, but I’m delighted with what has happened here in Elk Grove.”
Lincoln Snyder, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Sacramento, said that the church worked with the county of Sacramento to establish the church grounds as a temporary vaccine distribution site.
“The pastor of St. Maria Goretti Church, (the Rev. Sylvester Kwiatkowski), here in Elk Grove, volunteered his campus, his church as the spot for doing a mass vaccination clinic,” he said. “Churches are busy on Sundays, but it’s kind of quiet around here during the week.
“So, the whole idea of tying up this parking lot with several hundred of our closest friends was something that seemed like a really good community service.”
Kwiatkowski mentioned that he believes his church made history by hosting this event.
“I’m really excited about this event, because I think (this is) our first parish in the Diocese of Sacramento that offers this service to the community,” he said. “I feel so joyful and honored that this is (held) on the property of the Catholic church.
“We’re doing something wonderful for people who need our help.”
Sacramento County is currently using the limited allocation of vaccines to offer vaccinations for high-priority groups in the county’s Tier-1 phase of its vaccination plan.
Within Phase 1a of that tier, priority is given to health care professionals, first responders and congregate care setting staff.
County residents who are ages 65 years old or older will be receiving updated vaccination information from their health care providers and/or public health in the coming weeks.
Education/child care workers, non-first responding emergency services workers, and food and agricultural workers can also register their interest in receiving vaccinations.
For more information on vaccines, visit www.SacCounty.net/COVID-19.