California vaccine eligibility explodes Monday, but people have no way to sign up

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Starting Monday, March 15, vaccine eligibility massively expands in California to include an additional 4.4 million people. That's because this next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution allows for people with serious underlying health conditions to get a shot.

That applies to you if you're 16 to 64 years old with one of the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state from organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Other developmental or high-risk disabilities that put an individual at especially high risk


That last bullet point makes things a little fuzzy. Essentially any individual whose health is deemed "at risk" by a health care provider could qualify.

Some call it a loophole, but San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said it's intentional.

"If your health care provider is saying you're eligible for a vaccine we will for the most part be compliant with that order," said Colfax. "The point is we want low barrier access to vaccines. We don't want to create too much bureaucracy, too many forms."

But bureaucracy is already getting in the way. As of Friday afternoon, people with high-risk conditions still weren't able to make appointments for Monday or any day thereafter on the MyTurn website. "It will be your turn soon, but you are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this time," the site read.

We asked the California Department of Public Health when those appointments would be available online. A spokesperson responded, "That availability will be available by the 15th," but didn't offer a specific date or time.

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Appointments could be tough to come by until vaccine supply really starts to ramp up.

"We don't expect any dramatic increase in the next couple weeks," said Mike Wasserman, who sits on California's vaccine advisory committee. "But I am optimistic from what we're hearing from the Biden administration. I certainly hope we will see an increase in April."

President Joe Biden announced Thursday he would direct states to make everyone, regardless of age, occupation or risk level, eligible for the vaccine by May 1.
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