CalOptima provides COVID vaccines to vulnerable families in Orange County

WESTMINISTER, ORANGE COUNTY (KABC) -- In some Orange County zip codes with largely Latino neighborhoods, COVID-19 vaccination rates are well below the county average.

This has health officials scrambling to get people in the neediest areas vaccinated. One local health plan has found an efficient way to get this done plus get kids caught up on their routine vaccinations.

On Thursday, with the help of the California Department of Health Care Services, Medi-Cal provider CalOptima hosted a free mobile Back-To-School Vaccinations clinic at the Westminster Family Resource Center.

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During lockdown, many kids got behind on their well-checks and routine vaccinations. CalOptima's mobile immunization events are designed to help the most vulnerable families in Orange County.

"We want to make sure that they catch up on the important vaccines to return to school as well as receive the vaccine to protect them from this pandemic," said Marie Jeannis, RN, Executive Director, Quality and Population Health Management at CalOptima.

And it's not just for children, anyone who attends is welcome to get COVID-19 vaccines as well.

"Our goal is to get the vaccine in the arms of our members, as the people that we serve, but also in the arms of their family members," said Jeannis.

The event also provides incentives like free food, gift cards and transportation.



Treats, school supplies and gift cards are great incentives, but for many parents like Janina Samaco, it's the free vaccines and the peace of mind they provide.

"To let my kids go back to normal. I want them back in the classroom back to regular activities," said Samaco.

According to CalOptima, members 12 years or older will be eligible to receive a $25 gift card for each COVID vaccine dose or a one-time $25 gift card if a single-dose vaccine is received.
The next Back-to-School Vaccination events are scheduled for August 18th and 19th at the Westminster Family Resource Center from noon to 6 p.m.

Appointments are preferred although limited walk-ins are available. With more mingling to begin at schools very soon, organizers say vaccines are more important than ever.

"The reasons to get vaccinated would be to protect other people in their family to help family and friends to get family and friends back together sooner," said Dr. Emily Fonda, Chief Medical Officer, CalOptima.

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