Vaccines

People line up for COVID-19 vaccine shots at California Northstate University's Elk Grove campus.

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic recently opened in Elk Grove’s Stonelake neighborhood, and is offering vaccination shots to many Sacramento County residents.

The clinic, which is open to health care professionals and county residents who are 65 years old or older, is located on California Northstate University’s (CNU) Elk Grove campus at 9700 West Taron Drive.

Those receiving shots at this clinic belong to high-priority groups in Sacramento County’s Tier-1 phase of its vaccination plan.

County residents who qualify for these shots must register in advance of arriving at the clinic.

Because COVID-19 vaccines require two shots, those receiving shots at this clinic are given appointments to return three weeks later for the administration of their second shots.

The clinic is currently open Mondays through Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

CNU spokesperson Brian Holloway noted that the clinic filled a need in the community.

“We saw that some of the major health agencies were not really sure how they were going to do it and where it was going to go and the state wasn’t being really specific,” he said. “And so, (this medical school) went out and they’ve gotten a number of vaccines and they opened up this clinic in early January,” he said.

“The first thing they did was inoculate all the medical students that are helping, then they opened it up to the public. No matter what your insurance is, you can come to CNU and get your vaccine. You just need to make an appointment.”

Dr. Reginald Low, a cardiologist and the vice dean of CNU College of Medicine, told the Citizen that the clinic is using the Pfizer vaccine.

“We also have the Moderna (COVID-19) vaccine, but we’re using the Pfizer, because we’re one of the centers that have the appropriate storage and the ability to dilute it, and draw it up and so forth,” he said. “What we try to do is 100 patients an hour and we’re going to gear up to doing more by extending our hours, so we can accommodate the next tier of patients that will qualify for the vaccine.”

Low also said that it is important to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“By vaccinating as many people as we can, we should be able to achieve enough immunity to significantly impact the disease process in the future,” he said.

He also encouraged people to prevent the spreading of this virus through social distancing, wearing masks and frequent handwashing.

Dr. Jeffrey Nehira, who runs the clinic with Low, and is the chair of two CNU departments, told the Citizen that as of Feb. 8, the clinic had administered vaccination shots to about 5,550 people, and would continue giving vaccine shots to those with appointments.

“We basically book on a daily basis, depending on how much vaccine we get from the state,” Nehira said.

The pharmacy is mostly operated by medical and pharmacy students, who conduct the registration, counseling, administration of vaccinations, and post-shot observations. They are also prepared to respond to any medical emergency that may arise.

One of the volunteers is Warda Nawaz, a CNU graduate who currently works in a Rite Aid pharmacy.

 “It’s just good to connect with everybody and I just thought, ‘Why not?’” she said. “They need the help and I’m available and I think it’s a good use of my time, and I think it’s good to help people in need.”

Nawaz also stressed the necessity for people to receive COVID-19 shots.

“Vaccination is important, and I’m part of the public health process by precepting students who are vaccinating people,” she said.

CNU CEO and President Alvin Cheung summarized the role of this clinic in the overall fight against COVID-19.

“We’re doing our part, so we can actually collectively put the pandemic behind, if we can quickly vaccinate the entire population,” he said.

“In this particular scenario, it is better to have the vaccination in place of herd immunity, because (it is) a less harmful effect. In order for people to acquire the herd immunity, they have to get exposed to the disease itself, and there’s a health risk. So, having a vaccination program, it is better from a medical perspective.”

Elk Grove resident Linda Sheckles, who attended the event with her husband, Norman, said that she will be a lot more comfortable after she is vaccinated.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “We were so scared and really worried until we saw (details about this clinic) online. We’re very thankful.”

Richard Chavez, a south Sacramento resident, expressed excitement for being able to receive his first COVID-19 vaccination shot.

It’s better to take it than not take it (for) trying to prevent (spreading the virus),” he said.

Sacramento resident Jonathan Diamond told the Citizen that it was important to him to get vaccinated.

“It’s very important; it’s huge,” he said. “I’m of a certain age. I’m 72. I’ve got to have (the vaccination). Even if I get (this virus) later, I won’t die from it. You’ve got to be crazy not to get (the vaccine).”

For information on registering for appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at this clinic, visit the website www.cnsu.edu.