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Large new COVID vaccination site opens at Gilroy High School

Santa Clara County has opened its fifth large vaccination site, a new facility at Gilroy High School that aims to slow the pandemic in the South County, whose cities have the highest rates of COVID-19 per capita in Santa Clara County.

County officials say they hope to vaccinate up 1,000 people a day in the high school’s gyms, expanding to 2,000 a day as more vaccine doses are provided from the federal government.

Vaccines are by appointment only. To make an appointment, go to the county’s website at or call 211.

The site, at 750 W. 10th Street in Gilroy, began offering free vaccinations Wednesday afternoon. The facility is open to health care workers and Santa Clara County residents age 65 and older. On Sunday, it will expand to include those groups, along with Santa Clara County residents of all ages who are “essential workers” included in phase 1B of the state’s reopening plan — teachers, and workers in childcare, emergency services, food and agriculture.

“Gilroy and Morgan Hill have been especially hard hit by this pandemic,” said Mike Wasserman, president of the Santa Clara County board of supervisors.

“Vaccinating our community as quickly and equitably as possible is the key to healing and returning to some sort of normalcy as soon as possible,” added Wasserman, whose district includes the South County.

He urged residents to help their parents and grandparents sign up for the free vaccines, noting that 81% of the 1,747 COVID-19 deaths in Santa Clara County since the pandemic began have been among people age 65 and older.

The Gilroy center is operated by health workers from Santa Clara County and Valley Medical Center. It was set up in recent weeks by the county, Gilroy Unified School District and the National Guard.

The center is the fifth large vaccine site in Santa Clara County, joining Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, the Mountain View Community Center and the Santa Clara County offices at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose.

Gilroy has the highest COVID-19 rate of any city in Santa Clara County, with 12.9% of its population having tested positive. Morgan Hill is second, with 7.6% positive. San Jose is third, at 7%. By contrast, the cities with the lowest rate of COVID in Santa Clara County are Palo Alto and Los Altos, which have had just 2% of their populations test positive.

“With such a high rate of community transmission, making vaccines available to our residents is essential in the fight against COVID-19,” said Deborah Flores, superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District.

The district has not yet announced a reopening date for students to return to Gilroy High School.

“It will not interfere with students returning to campus,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center.

“We will find additional locations if needed to ensure we are not interfering with any school operations.”

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