Vaccination Sites, Counties Expand Eligibility Ahead of California Deadline

A Covid vaccine surplus led Angelenos to bombard California State University, Los Angeles, seeking the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine Thursday.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

(CN) — A week ahead of California’s deadline to expand Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents over age 16, several counties and vaccination sites have already began to offer vaccines to any adults who want them.

On Thursday, California State University, Los Angeles, began to allow any adult who wanted a Covid-19 vaccine to line up at the site for walk-up vaccines through the end of the weekend.

But a surge in demand had already led to people being turned away without getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, according to local news reports.

Greg Renick, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services, told the Daily News the site was “light on appointments” and chalked the surplus at the Federal Emergency Management Agency-run site to that.

“We want to finish strong and use up every dose we have,” Renick said, noting Los Angeles is going to take over operating the vaccination site — a pilot project approved by President Joe Biden — next week.

Coivd-19 vaccine appointments in California are booked through the state’s MyTurn system, which is currently only open to people 50 or older, those who have certain underlying health conditions or work in specified essential service jobs.

But as the Covid-19 vaccine supply has increased in California, several sites and counties have opted to vaccinate all adults to use all available vaccine, mainly through accepting walk-ups.

On Thursday, state officials said vaccine allocations from the federal government will dip 15% next week from 2.4 million to 2 million doses and another 5% the week after to 1.9 million. But the governor’s office said in a tweet that the state is still “on track to safely open” on June 15.

California residents typically learn about walk-up vaccine availability through word of mouth and on social media.

Technology whizzes have also come up with innovative ways for people to find appointments.

In San Diego, automated Twitter “bot” accounts have helped residents secure vaccine appointments as they are uploaded in real-time.

Several Southern California counties including Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino preempted the state’s plan for vaccination by expanding eligibility to anyone 16 and over.

Orange County is allowing anyone over 16 who lives in four ZIP codes hardest hit by the pandemic in the region — 92701 and 92703 in Santa Ana, 92805 in Anaheim and 92844 in Garden Grove — to be vaccinated.

Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay Area has taken a similar approach, expanding vaccine eligibility to those 16 and over in a dozen ZIP codes most affected by Covid-19. Those include neighborhoods in Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro and San Lorenzo

Nearly 21 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in California, with 19% of the population fully vaccinated.

The state’s ramped-up vaccination efforts prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to announce this week that California would fully reopen its economy June 15, so long as the vaccines prove effective against Covid-19 variants which are beginning to emerge.

The California Office of Emergency Services did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

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