Are you newly eligible but couldn’t schedule a vaccine at the Convention Center? Here’s why

California residents 16 years and older can now start booking appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, but you may have been confused today about why you couldn’t schedule an appointment at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Appointments for shots are now being handled through the state’s MyTurn website, but this morning, if you tried to sign up for one, the Long Beach Convention Center wasn’t listed as an option despite it being the city’s biggest vaccination site.

Long Beach spokeswoman Jennifer Rice Epstein said this was a glitch and should be fixed now. She said someone had accidentally set the Convention Center to be listed as a private clinic, meaning MyTurn was restricting who could see appointments. The city and state use designations like that when they have small pop-up clinics aimed at specific vulnerable populations.

For instance, organizers wouldn’t want a temporary clinic with a few hundred shots in Cambodia Town to be flooded with sign-ups from across the region, Epstein said.

Despite accidentally, temporarily limiting the Convention Center site, Epstein said it’s been busy there today.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, lines were short because the Convention Center typically distributes Moderna shots early in the week, and allocations of that brand have been low lately, according to Epstein.

But on Thursday, the Convention Center had 6,900 slots available and all appointments were booked, she said. Mayor Robert Garcia said this was the biggest day yet of vaccinations at the site.

Epstein said the city hasn’t noticed a slowdown in demand after the news of the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We feel like people are hanging in there and continuing to get vaccinated, which is good news,” she said. She said the city expects Friday and Saturday to be even busier, especially for walkups, “for exactly the reasons you would think.”

Do you want to sign up for a shot now that anyone 16 and older is eligible? Here’s how:

Sign up on MyTurn

The most common method, and the one most advertised by health officials, is to sign up on the state’s vaccine eligibility notification system, MyTurn. People who can’t access the website can sign up by calling 1-833-422-4255 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call your doctor

Personal medical providers may also have vaccines for their registered patients. Checking with medical providers such as Kaiser Permanente can help people secure an appointment set aside for that medical provider. Local clinics, such as TCC Family Health in Long Beach, have also hosted small-scale vaccination clinics for low-income patients.

Pharmacies

Big-brand pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens have started to post vaccine appointments for eligible groups. Each company varies, but users can log on to the pharmacy’s website of their choice and scout the COVID-19 link for available appointments.

The Long Beach webpage on vaccines also lists pharmacies that are giving vaccines and links to their appointment-sign-up pages.

Volunteer to help

Though it’s not guaranteed, volunteers who sign up to help at vaccination centers through MyTurn Volunteer could be eligible for a vaccine.

Those feeling charitable can sign up, with or without experience working in the medical field, and help neighbors sign up to get a vaccine or at a vaccination clinic. At the end of the shift, volunteers could be offered leftover vaccine.

Those interested in volunteering for the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department can email [email protected]

Simply walk up

From time to time, the Long Beach Health Department will announce on its Facebook and Twitter pages when a certain amount of vaccines are available at the mass vaccination clinic at the convention center in Downtown. Officials usually post these alerts around 2:30 p.m. closer to when the center closes at 4 p.m.

According to health officials, people can also walk-up to see if there’s slots open for eligible Long Beach residents. These are usually offered Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk-up appointment availability varies day to day based on overall vaccine availability.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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