AHS Holds Mass Vaccination Event at OACC
On Wednesday December 15, 2021, Asian Health Services (AHS) held a mass vaccination event at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza. The event, which ran from 1 – 4:30PM, was able to provide more than 600 boosters for patients and community members.
This wasn’t the first time AHS held a multilingual mass COVID-19 vaccination event for the community on top of their regular vaccine clinics that provide over 300 appointments per day. The last large-scale vaccination event AHS hosted this year was on February 24, during which AHS provided nearly 1,000 vaccinations to patients who speak 10 different languages.
With the rise of the omicron variant and the upcoming holidays, AHS leadership conceived of this final push for mass vaccinations before the holiday period a week ago. “AHS will respond to the community’s needs. This is why we stepped up to do this event–we noticed that the booster demand was very high and we knew right before the holidays it’s very hard for our community and our patients to schedule a vaccine. We’re providing a much needed service for our patients right before the holidays so they can spend time with their loved ones feeling protected,” says Dr. Mychi Nguyen, AHS’ Chief Medical Officer. All 600 appointment slots were filled quickly after the scheduling link went live.
Staff and volunteers began setting up in the morning at the Pacific Renaissance Plaza for check-in, and when people arrived, escorted them upstairs to OACC to receive their shots. Despite the frigid and windy winter weather on the day, the event was at full capacity.
One of the first people in line was a centenarian, and as the day went on, not only elderly community members in need received their boosters, but also younger adults who got their shot and were able to inquire about opportunities to vaccinate the rest of their family. Others, having a hard time finding appointments for boosters elsewhere, traveled far to make it to OACC, and AHS was able to meet this high demand and open 100 additional slots for walk-ins.
An AHS patient who received her booster described how she felt that it was important to get her booster because “right now the pandemic is still really serious so it’s important to protect yourself… AHS is providing a really great service and the whole experience went really smoothly.”
Non-medical provider AHS staff pitched in to support this large-scale event, with many expressing how meaningful it was being able to serve the community. Koji Sakakibara, Director of Community Services, remarked, “I really appreciate AHS leadership deciding to do this, pushing this, and the team for believing that we could do it. I’m so glad that I’m part of this event and seeing so many smiling faces.”
The event also was able to run smoothly due to AHS’ committed and compassionate volunteers. Long-time Patient Leadership Council (PLC) members greeted people at the start of the check-in line and provided in-language services. Others showed up to give back to the community, like volunteer Kylie Leung, who notes, “As a second and third generation Chinese American whose parents are immigrants from Hong Kong, it was really important to me to give back to my community, especially considering the anti-Asian hate attacks. I understand that there are a lot of language barriers and there aren’t enough services for the AAPI community, so I wanted to come out and do my best to make sure that everybody is safe and make sure that everybody has access to the same resources.” Ninth graders Brandon Ko-so and Matthew Huang, who played keyboard and cello to share holiday music and classical tunes for those waiting during their observation period, brought an additional holiday cheer towards the end of the day.
It was heartening to see the dedication of the community members, volunteers, and staff and everyone coming together to uplift the community. Dr. Thu Quach, incoming AHS President, sums up the event: “This is what Asian Health Services does–we make sure that our community is well-protected and cared for.”