Is it OK to get a COVID-19 vaccine in another California county? Here's what we found

ByAlix Martichoux and Wayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Is it OK to get a vaccine in another county? Here's what we found
COVID-19 vaccine appointments are slim in the San Francisco Bay Area. Is it OK to drive to Fresno, Los Angeles, or other counties in the Central Valley and Southern California where there are more available? The answer is different depending on the site.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In two weeks, everyone over the age of 16 will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But in the Bay Area, an appointment is no easy thing to come by.

When the state opened up its MyTurn vaccine registration website to everyone 50 and older Wednesday, there were hardly any appointments to be found in the nine Bay Area counties. But if you changed your address to somewhere in Fresno, Redding, Los Angeles or San Diego (just to name a few), there were appointments available all over the place.

So if you're able and willing to drive out to Madera County or even all the way down to Riverside, does that mean you should snag one of those appointments? Is that even allowed?

The answer to that question is different for county-run sites, federally run sites and pharmacy locations (like CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, etc.).

We reached out to 11 different counties outside the Bay Area with available vaccine appointments and asked if they would give doses to folks from the Bay Area who are willing to make the drive. Every answer we got was a different version of "no." (We didn't hear back from every county by publication time, and will update this story if we hear differently.)

Merced, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Shasta counties -- all of which had appointments available on the MyTurn site when we checked Wednesday morning -- all responded that vaccine doses in their counties are intended for people who live and work in the county.

"Our county cancels appointments made by people who don't live or work within San Bernardino County," a county spokesperson said.

A Merced County spokesperson said vaccination sites might ask people to show a photo ID and proof they live or work in the county to confirm they're eligible.

The rules are a bit different at federal vaccine sites, which vaccinate people from any county. The two federally run sites in California, at the Oakland Coliseum and at California State University, Los Angeles, are set to cease operations April 11, so it looks like that loophole -- if you want to call it that -- is closing soon, too.

Your best bet, if you're willing to take a road trip, may be at a pharmacy location. CVS told ABC7 News that they have seen some people travel far from home to get a COVID-19 vaccine. As long as they are eligible for the vaccine by California's standards, there shouldn't be an issue.

"If they are able to register and it is the most convenient, they are able to go," said CVS Pharmacies spokesperson Lisa Kalajian.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

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