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Imperial County’s most vulnerable brave the cold for COVID-19 vaccine

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CBS 13's Alexandra Rangel gives us a look at the scores of people hoping to get their shot

EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY), The first vaccine clinic for people 65 and older in Imperial County will be held Monday morning at the Imperial Valley Mall.

The IV Mall turned into a campground Sunday night as people rushed to get in line for El Centro Regional Medical Center's vaccine clinic scheduled for Monday at 7:30 a.m.

People brought chairs and plenty of snacks as they prepared to wait in line, with the hopes of being one of the lucky 600 people to get vaccinated at ECRMC's clinic.

ECRMC encouraged people to be inline by 6:00 a.m. Monday, to register for the event, however, people began lining up as early as 8:00 a.m. Sunday.

As temperatures dipped Sunday night people began getting worried, many calling their loved ones to bring more blankets and even outside heaters to stay warm throughout the night.

“I’m in line for my mom and my dad to bring them tomorrow morning to get the vaccine," said Rosa Ramos, El Centro resident.

Ramos made line for her 80-year-old parents.

Ramos said she and her sister would be taking turns throughout the night so her parents didn't have to.

The vaccines are on a first come first served basis for the first 600 people that fall within the age group.

“We all have the hope that tomorrow we will be able to get the vaccine. I've been here since 3:00 p.m. and we’re prepared. We have blankets in the car and they just brought me dinner," said Juan Arias, El Centro Resident.

The Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District will also be holding a clinic at the Brawley Gateway Church Monday. The first 300 people in line will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

PMHD's clinic is a drive through clinic. Registration starts at 5:00 a.m.

Between ECRMC and PMHD, it’s a total of 900 vaccines that will be administered to senior citizens.

The 900 that get vaccinated Monday will be the first group of people outside of phase 1-A to get vaccinated.

The state of California recently added people 65 and older to phase 1-B of tier 1, allowing counties to give scarce vaccines to these individuals.

According to the county, the state also gave counties in California the green light to use second dose vaccines as first doses.

This allowed for Imperial County to dip into second dose vaccines they had saved up for frontline workers and use them for Monday's clinic.

The county says they're expecting more vaccines to arrive.

As of Friday, the county had received about 6,000 vaccines for both first and second doses.

With a long road ahead until everyone gets vaccinated, one local official is hoping more thought will be put into future vaccine clinics.

"Not only are our 65 and older our most vulnerable, they are also suffering the highest mortality rates because of COVID," said Tomas Oliva, El Centro Mayor Pro Tem.

"For them to be gathering in this way, this could be a super-spreader event and I know this was not the intention of this planning process, but this is the outcome and I'm very concerned," said Oliva.

Oliva joined in with the El Centro Fire Department as they helped keep those in line warm, with a hot cup of coffee.

Imperial County / Imperial County Coronavirus / Top Stories

Alexandra Rangel

Alexandra Rangel joined KSWT in March 2019 as a multimedia journalist.

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Lisa Sturgis

Lisa Sturgis recently returned to KYMA as its Digital Content Director, but she and her family have a long history in the Desert Southwest.


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