SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With limited vaccine supply on top of a huge influx of eligibility, there is concern about increased waits and frustration when it comes to getting vaccinated, a process that has already proved very challenging.
So ABC7 News spoke to the experts, who have advice for securing a vaccine appointment.
"You will get, it just might take longer than anticipated, " said San Francisco deputy director of health, Dr. Naveena Bobba.
VACCINE TRACKER: Here's how CA is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine
She says while eligibility is opening to everyone 16 and older on Thursday, April 15, it may take weeks to get appointments because of supply constraints.
"This week, we got about 10,000 doses and our Johnson & Johnson doses were way down, as compared to last week we got about 16,000, so it is a 30% decrease."
Dr. Bobba says most of the supply is going to pharmacies and federally qualified health centers right now, while San Francisco is still working to equitably distribute the vaccine in the hardest hit zip codes.
She also says San Francisco is trying to ensure families of 16 and 17-year-old's, who want the vaccine, know where Pfizer is available, since that is the only vaccine with FDA emergency use authorization for those ages.
She also says DPH does not recommend people travel outside the Bay Area to get vaccinated.
"The other reason not to travel is because wherever you get your first dose, you need to go back to get your second dose. They are getting allocations based on who they gave their first dose to."
Bay Area mom, Lee Nevo Lamprey, launched a website dedicated to helping people navigate vaccine sign-ups.
"Set your expectations that you will not probably get your first appointment that you try to sign up for."
Lee got involved with vaccine appointment research, after she helped several family members secure appointments. She also helps run the Bay Area Vaccine Hunters and San Francisco COVID-19 Vaccine Help Facebook groups and advises vaccinefairy.org, which provides nationwide vaccine appointment assistance.
Lee's first piece of advice: "Don't get discouraged, keep trying."
She also hopes people will follow her lead and help someone who's struggling.
"When other people are protected, we're all more protected. We're all safer."
The following is vaccine sign-up advice and information from Lee Nevo Lamprey and the Bay Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook Group:
- If you and family/friends have insurance (health/prescription), keep the information (Insurance provider name, group number, member number) next to you, while you register on websites for a vaccine.
- Team up and collect information from family/friends upfront so as soon as you see availability, book appointments for everyone on your list. Having appointments together means you can drive together and save multiple trips.
- Create a separate account for each family member on all provider's websites upfront. Several websites (Stanford, Walgreens, Kaiser) do not allow you to book appointments for family members from a single account.
- Don't get discouraged. If you aren't able to find an appointment right away, keep trying, and try multiple sites. It may take a fair amount of persistence and patience.
- Don't get tempted into using a community site meant for a local at-risk population, unless you belong to the target population. Try to get an appointment though your County, pharmacy, hospital provider, or mass vaccination site.
- If you don't have internet access or have a hard time with technology, try calling 211 for help scheduling. If they aren't able to help, call in a volunteer vaccine fairy at 855-800-BOOK. Another option is to register at vaccinefairy.org . This site is run by volunteers who will book appointments for you. Set up Telegram notifications for available appointments. This channel provides availability information from more than 200 locations in the Bay Area every hour. Instructions to setup notifications - https://tinyurl.com/97x5djyk (Instructions available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Portuguese).
- You don't need insurance to get vaccinated. If you have it, providers will bill them. If not they will bill the government. The vaccine is 100% free, regardless of whether or not you have insurance.
- Immigration status or lack thereof is not a requirement. So even if you are a citizen, permanent resident, on a temporary visitor/work visa or undocumented, you can still get vaccine for free. Immigration status is NOT asked or reported to any authority.
- ID is asked by providers to make sure you are the person who booked the appointment (not for immigration or legal status). This could be any ID, doesn't have to be state/federal govt issued id. Any picture ID would work.
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