Reporter goes to cover walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Richmond, ends up getting first shot

Volunteers from across the U.S. are helping administer COVID-19 vaccinations at a walk-in clinic at Veterans Memorial Hall in Richmond this week. (Photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

I went to Veterans Memorial Hall in Richmond this afternoon to report for the Standard on the new walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site. I didn’t know I would end up getting a vaccine shot myself.

And I can report firsthand that the process was quick and easy.

The Veterans Hall, located at 968 23rd St., near to where I live, is among the pop-up walk-in clinics opening countywide as part of a partnership between Contra Costa County and California Office of Emergency Services. About 500-700 vaccinations a day can be given at each walk-in site. The Veterans Hall clinic opens from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Sunday, April 25. Pop-up clinics will then open in other Richmond locations (see end of the story for dates/locations). 

When I stopped by the Veterans Hall, I interviewed the site’s supervisor of the day, Rob Martin of Tucson, Ariz., who was staffing a mobile vaccination clinic. Volunteers from all over the U.S. have been coming to work at Veterans Hall, with Martin saying federal, state and county agencies, including FEMA and the National Guard, are collaborating on the effort to get people vaccinated.

“We are outreaching to communities that are underrepresented,” Martin said, adding that some people have reasons they can’t make it to vaccination sites, such as lack of transportation, so they’re bringing the vaccines to them. “We are here to serve the community.” 

Martin asked if I had received my vaccine shot. I’d been planning to get mine the first week of May, but Martin suggested I get my Pfizer shot right then.

Like I said, the process was easy. After going through several check-in points, providing my name and other information, I was escorted to the back of the Hall’s large social room to table D, where I met volunteers responsible for administering my first dose.

I met Carl, a retired firefighter from Orland, which is a suburb of Chicago, and Angel. They started asking me a few questions about my health. Angel recorded my information on his laptop. Meanwhile, Carl prepared my shot. He asked if I was ready and within seconds he delivered the dose in my shoulder area and it was over.

I had the Pfizer vaccine and didn’t experience any side effects after waiting for fifteen minutes.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia told me that everyone who is vaccinated at the Veterans Hall, including myself, would be contacted as to where their next appointment for their second and final shot would be held.

Carl said he had been volunteering since April 11 and today was his first day in Richmond. Angel had been volunteering since Feb. 9 and had been at this vaccination site for one week.

“People need to know how painless this shot really is,” Carl said. “We find that everyone from the community is appreciative of the service we do here. You see it’s all about making the community safe and shutting down the spread of this pandemic. We want people in the community of Richmond and other cities close by that we are here to serve them and make a difference.” 

Dates/Locations for walk-in vaccine clinics in Contra Costa County:

April 15-25

  • Veterans Memorial Hall: 968 23rd. St, Richmond
  • Antioch Community Center: 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

April 26 – May 2

  • Albert D. Seeno Jr. Pittsburg Youth Development Center: 1001 Stoneman Ave., Pittsburg
  • St. John Missionary Baptist Church – North Campus: 29 8th St. Richmond

May 3-6

  • Meadow Homes Elementary School: 1371 Detroit Ave., Concord
  • St. John Missionary Baptist Church – South Campus: 662 S. 52nd. St, Richmond