'Going to stay up until midnight': CA families, IT experts prep for increased COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, anyone 16 and older in California is eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. IT experts and families throughout the state are preparing for the influx of eligibility.

"I'm hoping to have a normal senior year," said Tori Balsam-Ashling, who lives in San Carlos and is wrapping up her junior year at Carlmont High School in San Mateo County. Her first step to "normalcy" is finding a vaccine, so the 17-year-old and her mom have a plan for booking an appointment as soon as Tori becomes eligible. "I'm going to stay up until midnight so I can get it when it turns to the 15th and my mom is going to look in the morning."

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"I think we'll probably do some prep work tonight, but I think MyTurn is always good. These bigger sites tend to have more appointments available," explained her mom, Kimberly Balsam.

Myturn.ca.gov, the state's vaccine scheduling site, will open to millions more Californians Thursday.

"We just tested the system in multiple ways," said Eric Norton, the project manager for California's MyTurn vaccine management system. "We've been working with local health jurisdictions in San Francisco and San Diego and Los Angeles to make sure the system is ready to handle the capacity that we have."

Kate Larsen: "Do you anticipate any problems with the MyTurn website, like it crashing, with the influx of usage?"

Eric Norton: "We've upgraded the system to make sure we can handle a capacity of up to 300,000 transactions per hour, which should be more than sufficient for the influx of people seeking registrations."

"It's not something people will say usually, but I know we can do it," Norton added with a smile.

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Because Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized right now for 16 and 17-year-olds, Norton says when teens that age register, they will only be shown clinics where Pfizer is available.

Tori is looking forward to getting back to basics.

Larsen: "Once you and your friends are all vaccinated, what are the first things you want to do?"

Tori Balsam-Ashling: "Mostly hanging out inside because there's a lot more options when you can be inside. And, I really want to go back to school in person."

The MyTurn site will also update overnight to reflect expanded eligibility and include additional languages like Arabic and Farsi.

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