Veterans line up for Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Santa Ana clinic

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- As vaccination efforts continue to expand throughout California, there are special efforts being made to reach more vulnerable populations.

In Orange County, a clinic was held this weekend to provide the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to local veterans.

The clinic expected to administer 550 doses of the vaccine.

"We've had a big campaign to talk about why it is important to get your shots and taking care of your teammates like we did in the service," said retired Brigadier Gen. Denton Knapp with the California National Guard. "We want to continue to do that with veterans and their families now."

VA Long Beach Healthcare System has been administering vaccines to veterans since December.

But this clinic was different. Unlike with those featuring the Moderna vaccine, this one did not have be tethered to the main hospital due to strict subzero storage requirements.

"Johnson & Johnson gives us the opportunity to deploy out to where our veterans live and that is a game changer especially given it is a single dose shot," said Richard Beam with LA Long Beach Healthcare System.

While nurses readied the doses - veterans sat down and rolled up their sleeves.

Registered nurse and Coast Guard veteran Francisco Escobar was the first to receive the shot.

"I was putting it off for a little bit, I wasn't sure," Escobar said. "But I have given thousands of shots and feel like it is the responsible thing to do. Finally get it protect my family, my patients, my co-workers."

For Army veteran Doug Saunders getting his COVID-19 vaccine shot was personal.

"A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who is a Navy veteran passed away from COVID," Saunders said.

"A lot of people think it is just the flu. It's not. People are dying left and right. So I don't want to do that to my family."

If you missed out you can head to the VA Long Beach Healthcare System Facebook page for upcoming clinics.
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