A Closer Look at the Drive-Thru Vaccine Experience at the Oakland Coliseum

With many Bay Area residents pondering how the drive-thru experience at a mass vaccination site will proceed, we take you through it from both sides of the needle.
By Joseph Paiz, CONTRIBUTOR
OAKLAND, Calif. — Alameda County’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site opened on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Oakland Coliseum with lengthy lines for walk-in and drive-thru appointments.

The Pioneer Online takes a closer look at the drive-thru vaccination experience and what you can expect once your appointment is booked.

In general, the process is efficient and well-organized, although it may initially be discouraging due to the difficulty of booking appointments. Eligible residents have tried using multiple tabs, browsers, and devices in an attempt to book an appointment with varied success– those that persisted and tried at different times throughout the day seemed to be more successful at booking their two appointments for the Pfizer vaccine.

However, once you do have an appointment, it seems to be smooth sailing, even at different times of the day. The lines of cars can seem daunting at first– but it moves more quickly than one might imagine, with more lanes opening up as the day progresses to alleviate the traffic and keep lines flowing.

Pulling into the main gate of Lot A on the north side of the Oakland Coliseum, one can expect to be checked in by giving your name to someone with a tablet, and once they confirm your appointment, you are directed to a long slalom of orange cones. Traffic continues to move somewhat slowly but surely until you wind your way up to one of three large tents, underneath which there are several lanes where the vaccine shot is administered.

Once directed into a tent and a lane, you are approached by a healthcare worker or two, one of which asks some of the same questions about potential allergies already answered in an online questionnaire for consistency. A worker then approaches to give the actual injection, after which you are escorted forward into an area to park for 15 minutes of observation to watch for adverse reactions to the vaccine. After 15 minutes, you leave the way you came, expecting to repeat the process in three weeks for a second dose.

Overall, the process appears straightforward and well-run. How are things working from the distribution side, one may ask? Nathan Dubuk, an EMT administering shots at a comparable drive-thru vaccination site at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, explained, “I was surprised by how good it was.”

Dubuk, who admittedly had only worked the site for a few days, continued, “I have definitely seen some not-so-smooth events and stuff that doesn’t work as well, and this was very smooth and very easy. They are on top of their stuff, and it was easy to get what I needed.”

Before you leave for your appointment, you might want to make sure you have a full tank of gas just in case you’re unlucky enough to hit a large influx of fellow travelers in search of a shot in the arm (there are AAA trucks on site as well, just in case) and wear clothing loose enough to easily expose the shoulder for the injection.

For more information regarding vaccination appointments and eligibility, please visit myturn.ca.gov.