It’s now late May 2021 and it definitely feels like the tide is finally turning against the invisible beast that has held us hostage and changed our lives for over a year.
Right now the County of Santa Clara is stating that 85.7% of Morgan Hill residents over the age of 12 have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That impressive number is continually growing and I’d like to think the Morgan Hill community itself is partially responsible for that great statistic.
The County of Santa Clara has been the main source of testing and vaccinations for most of our county—but not Morgan Hill. We, as a community with a private partner, have hosted 45 clinics with four more on the horizon. How did we do that?
In early March of this year, former city council member Larry Carr, aided by Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando, fought to get the vaccine from Larry’s employer, the Safeway/Albertsons Companies, and successfully justified a local series of clinics that were initially for educators.
Steve needed volunteers to partner with the Safeway staff to support the clinics so reached out to the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill for four clinics immediately with four more later to accommodate the second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
The clinics started at Sobrato High School and we set to work operating as Steve had inspired us. From the beginning, patients from communities far and wide displayed their appreciation for the wonderful treatment and efficient clinic operation in tears of thanks and kind words. Many patients returned with baskets of fruit, candy and even Starbucks gift cards for the volunteers and Safeway staff.
We were to find out our clinics were unique and inspiring. We, as a community, started providing wonderful meals for the Safeway staff and volunteers. By the time we finished, the community had provided 40 lunches from local businesses, at full cost, for those working the clinics, valued at over $8,500!
Safeway staff appreciated the efficient and fun working conditions so asked if they could provide more clinics with this combination of volunteers in Morgan Hill locations. The rest, as they say, is now history.
We continued on at Sobrato High when during spring break the clinics moved to the Community and Cultural Center. In the end, clinics were being held at both locations with the Sobrato High location focusing on graduating students who might be going forth into the world during summer break.
All told, there will have been 49 clinics held placing approximately 18,000 doses into arms in Morgan Hill! Almost 500 volunteer slots were filled with only three no shows! The volunteer effort by the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill was joined by members of Morgan Hill’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and friends from as far away as San Francisco and Livermore.
I think these clinics put on by Safeway/Albertsons Companies and the Morgan Hill community made a difference in the lives of many seeking to escape the specter of Covid-19. For many in the community, including myself, it provided a sense of fighting the invisible beast that had threatened us for too long. It provided a most unforgettable insight into the impacts the pandemic had on so many in our community—we saw the tears of joy, tears of fear, and the sense of relief expressed by so many.
It was humbling and rewarding.
Thank you Larry Carr, Steve Betando, MHUSD, City of Morgan Hill, Rotary Club of Morgan Hill, CERT, and the friends and family who make up the Morgan Hill community!
John McKay is a Morgan Hill City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem. He wrote this column for the Morgan Hill Times.