IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) -- San Diego County health officials announced that the first wave of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines would be distributed to UCSD Medical Center and Rady Children's Hospital.
While COVID-19 remains at the forefront of everyone's mind, officials also remind people not to forget about the dangers of influenza. They say both illnesses should be taken seriously to avoid overcrowding hospitals.
Recently, the Imperial Beach Recreation Center has been a COVID-19 testing site. But Saturday, it transformed into the county's free flu clinic.
"Every year, we encourage people to get the flu vaccine," San Diego County Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Denise Foster said. "This year, it's even more important because of the pandemic."
Dr. Foster says with the FDA's Emergency Authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the county is preparing for a large-scale roll-out by early next week. The first place to get a portion of the 28,000-dose county allocation will be UCSD Medical Center and Rady Children's Hospital.
"Just within a few days of that, we are going to get another allocation, which includes the county and some of the local hospitals directly," Dr. Foster said.
But COVID is not their only focus. In the 2019 to 2020 flu season, more than 20,000 San Diegans got the flu. Of that, 108 people died.
So far this year, the numbers are drastically lower due to social distancing and masking protocols. The county hopes to keep it that way. The idea is to keep people out of hospitals, whether it's for the flu or COVID.
Christine Kelly brought her granddaughter to the clinic to get a flu shot.
"I've had a bad flu in the past to where I thought I was not going to make it," Kelly said.
With the spread of COVID, she says she did not want to take any chances.
"We don't want to go anywhere near the hospital," Kelly said. "We want to save it for the people that need to be there."
According to the county, 84% of ICU beds are already taken as of Dec. 11.
Talks of COVID-19 vaccines are still in their infancy. But with Moderna and Astra Zeneca approvals also expected in the near future, the Imperial Beach Recreation Center could once again evolve, next time, into a COVID-19 vaccine site.
"It's very possible," Dr. Foster said. "Centers like this and many others."
Tomorrow, the county will open another free flu clinic at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.