SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Around 2,000 front-line workers got their COVID-19 vaccines Saturday, at a special clinic organized by the San Diego County Labor Council.
"They're exposed at much higher rates," says Brigette Browning, the Vice President of the San Diego/Imperial County Labor Council. "We've had a lot of members die, so we want to get them safe as soon as possible."
The Labor Council worked with state officials to supply 2,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine in San Diego, and another 1,000 doses for Imperial County.
Union organizers helped people who work in food service, domestic care, child care, transportation, home healthcare, and Headstart programs sign up for appointments. That made it easier than if they had to go through county-run websites for vaccine eligibility.
"It's very confusing," says Browning, "especially if you're not real confident on the computer. So I think having a trusted partner help you navigate through that system is really meaningful."
Volunteers from American Medical Response administered the shots. At one point, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council President Dr. Jen Campbell dropped in to show their support for the event.
Browning says getting these groups of workers a vaccine is a critical step towards reopening the economy. Quang Nguyen, a sushi chef who received his vaccine Saturday, says he'll feel more comfortable going back to work knowing he's protected.
"If we have COVID and don't know, we go to work, it could spread so easily," Nguyen says. "It could spread through the food to other workers, or customers that come in. So you don't know."
The clinic also helps San Diego reach some of its vaccine equity metrics. Browning says around 90% of the people getting shots Saturday are from minority or under-served communities. The state has made it a priority to give those people access to vaccines.
"They're so thankful," she says. "And it's such an amazing experience."
Tory Racine runs a child care business. She lost a niece to COVID-19. That's why she brought four family members with her to Saturday's clinic, so they could get shots and help spread the word to other members of the black community.
"It's very important. I'm more afraid of getting COVID than I am of getting the vaccine," Racine says. "I'm hoping more of them will get it done. That's why I sent the picture to all of my family members, showing them I got it done. So I'm hoping more will do it."
The Labor Council plans to hold more clinics for front-line workers in the future, as long as the state keeps giving them doses to administer.