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SACRAMENTO, Calif (KTXL) — One of the most popular COVID-19 vaccination sites in Placer County will be closed for two days for a SacAnime event.

The news of the event happening at The Grounds on Thursday and Friday have given people mixed feelings. Some say vaccines should be the number one priority.

Chris and Tina Vicencio say the process of getting the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine at the grounds in Placer County was pleasant.

“Super smooth, really efficient,” Chris said.

Roxana Pashmineh Azar had the same experience as she received her second dose today.

“There was no line. I walked right in, I was seen right away and then just waited the 15 minutes,” Pashmineh Azar said.

Although others who also planned on getting a COVID-19 vaccine at the site on Thursday or Friday will have to wait due to SacAnime.

“We’re not actually doing a full convention, this is just a swap meet, so we’re going to be having mainly vendors, exhibitors, there’s going to be no in-person panels, there is going to be no in-person meetings,” said Alex Arevalos, SacAnime communication director. “We’re also going to be at 25% capacity, we just want people to be able to go out and enjoy themselves a little bit.”

Arevalos says they recognize the imperfect timing and place of this convention but are going to make the most of it in the safest way possible.

“We actually suggested that we could not use the area used for vaccinations. We spoke about the possibility of keeping it open all the way until Friday because they are only open Monday through Friday, but this is out of our hands,” Arevalos said.

Officials with Placer County’s Public Health Department says they’ve known about the convention for a long time now but didn’t feel it was necessary to postpone, adding they will extend clinic hours from Monday through Wednesday to compensate for time lost to the event, something people are disagreeing with.

“I wish they’d keep this going because you can see how efficient they are,” Chris said.

Some at the site Monday said they feel that SacAnime should be postponed.

“I think probably this facility could be better used for the vaccinations. I think that is more important right now than an anime convention,” Pashmineh Azar said.

“I understand we all want to get out and do things again and feel like we’re back to normal but think we need to take steps to push everybody through,” Tina said.

A recently vaccinated Vietnam veteran Ralph Martinez says otherwise.

“I think it’s fine because there are a lot of other locations besides this one. We’re in the Sutter medical system and we got notices that there was vaccines available at Sutter, so I don’t see why they should have to postpone their special event here,” Martinez said.

Arevalos says they are working very closely with Placer County Public Health to make sure the event is safe to attend and safe for COVID-19 vaccines to resume.

Placer County Public Health sent a statement to FOX40 on Monday:

The clinic will be closed April 1-2. We’ve known that the Grounds had a prior commitment on those dates for some time, and so we were able to plan ahead and extend our clinic hours from Monday through Wednesday to compensate and continue to maximize our volume. The majority of appointments this week are second rather than first doses (about 4800 second, 550 first). Folks getting their second dose can schedule it up to four days before their second dose eligibility date (per CDC), and for weeks afterward, so we don’t anticipate any issues or impacts to needed appointments.

We will be tearing down our setup (chairs, tables, other equipment) and will return after the building is cleared.

Placer County Public Health

The Grounds, formerly known as the Placer County Fairgrounds, sent a statement about the clinic’s extended hours Monday afternoon:

The Placer County-operated COVID-19 vaccine clinic located @the Grounds will extend hours and operate 9:30 a.m. to 5:30p.m. today (Monday, March 29) through Wednesday (March 31) in order to accommodate residents seeking their first or second shot of the vaccination.

The clinic – which has already distributed more than 50,000 vaccinations and helped Placer County reach the highest vaccination rate in the Sacramento region – will not operate Thursday (April 1) and Friday (April 2) because of an event that had been planned @the Grounds since mid-2020. Placer County health officials knew about the scheduled event and added three hours per day to vaccinate residents today through Wednesday, and had already planned to be closed Thursday and Friday.

The county-run COVID vaccination clinic is typically closed on weekends. The clinic will resume vaccinations 9 a.m. Monday, April 5.

Last Thursday (March 25), Governor Gavin Newsom announced individuals at least 50 years old would be eligible to make an appointment starting Thursday, April 1. Those at least 16 years are eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated starting April 15.

“We are extremely happy and proud to serve the community with the ongoing vaccination clinic, and play a major role in combating the spread of COVID,” said Charlie Gardner, General Manager of @the Grounds, formerly the Placer County Fairgrounds. “We’ve adjusted the clinic schedule to help accommodate those seeking vaccinations, while also meeting a long-standing agreement with an event organizer.”  

SacAnime, a swap meet between vendors and anime fans, will be held Friday through Saturday @the Grounds. SacAnime, like all events @the Grounds during the pandemic, will follow health and safety protocols, including limiting attendance and requiring face masks.  

The Roebbelen Center located @the Grounds – able to accommodate as many as 12 full-length basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts – opened in February 2020. The 160,000-square-foot building was designed to attract major sports competitions, large meetings, trade shows, concerts and other events to the region. But five weeks after the grand-opening celebration of the building, the state-ordered lockdown went into place to prevent the spread of COVID.

Soon after, @the Grounds and the Robbelen Center in partnership with Placer County Health and Human Services Department started meeting the most critical demands of the community, first as a COVID testing site – and more recently as the largest vaccine clinic in Placer County.

“It just reinforces how important @the Grounds is to our community,” said David Attaway, Chief Executive Officer of Placer Valley Tourism and @the Grounds. “In a crisis, it has truly filled a need.”