Pictured above: Craig Haukom, a Firefighter/Paramedic from the Barona Fire Department, administers a COVID-19 vaccine during the San Diego County Operation Collaboration event at the Fallbrook Education Center on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Hundreds receive Johnson & Johnson vaccine during an “Operation Collaboration” event at Palomar’s North Education Center in Fallbrook.

FALLBROOK — Some 400 residents of North County received the COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event hosted at Palomar College’s North Education Center in Fallbrook and coordinated by a variety of San Diego County agencies in an effort known as “Operation Collaboration.”

The event took place most of the day on Friday, March 12, 2021, providing local residents with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Rachel Mason, Chief Executive Officer of the Fallbrook Regional Health District, said the 400 available appointments were reserved in less than three hours after the notification of the event went out on Wednesday.

“This is absolutely one of the best partnerships we could have formed. The Palomar College team has been exceptional to work with, and tremendously responsive,” said Mason.

Dr. Jack Kahn, Interim Superintendent/President of Palomar College, said he was thrilled to witness the participation of numerous regional agencies in bringing about Friday’s clinic.

Fallbrook Regional Health District staff member Tracy Rosalee talks to a member of the public waiting in line for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This pandemic has been a long and difficult experience for everybody, and to see our area taking steps to get back to normal is truly encouraging,” said Dr. Kahn. “Thank you to everybody who made this clinic possible, including our Facilities Department, which opened our Fallbrook site to the public.”

Mason said prior to Friday, there had only been a handful of small “pop-up” vaccination clinics in Fallbrook: “This is the first large, county-supported vaccination clinic in our area.”

She said Palomar’s center off Horse Ranch Creek Road was the ideal location because officials wanted to make sure that the rural communities east of I-15 would also have access to the clinic.

North County residents wait in line to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic in Fallbrook on March 12, 2021.

Looking down the line of people who were waiting for their shot on Friday morning, North County Fire District Fire Captain Joey Bradshaw said, “Exciting is the first word that comes to mind.”

“This has been a collaborative effort to get the vaccine out to the public—it’s a step toward normalcy for everybody,” said Bradshaw.

Mason said the event was open to residents of San Diego County, and that she hoped to see a second round of public vaccinations in Fallbrook during the next few weeks: “Everybody is excited—it’s been long overdue for this part of the county,” she said.