COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is about to open up to everyone. Here’s how you can get one

The number of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is quickly expanding. The state on April 15 will make the shot available to anyone over 16, which will add a wave of about 5 million people vying for a shot to the already millions either waiting or on the hunt for one in Los Angeles County.

Long Beach health officials have not said whether the city will move faster than the state to vaccinate everyone over 16, but the city has moved faster on other health orders in the past, such as vaccinating people over 50 a week ahead of the state on March 15.

Here’s who’s eligible as of April 7:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • People 50 and older
  • Government and emergency response workers
  • Education and childcare workers
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Residents 16 through 49 years of age with physical or developmental disabilities
  • Janitorial and custodial services
  • Residents 16 through 49 years of age with underlying medical conditions

With more age groups getting tacked onto the eligibility list in the coming days, here’s the various ways and places you can get one in LA County including Long Beach.

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 can sign up on MyTurn to be notified when their group can book an appointment. 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.

Check VaccineFinder.com

Boston Children’s Hospital recently created an online tool called Vaccine Finder, which shows what places nearby are stocked with vaccines. Users type in a ZIP code and the website identifies areas that have the vaccine. It also allows users to filter out their choices based on the manufacturer of the vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccine. It highlights pharmacies and community medical centers that have vaccines.

Vaccine Finder cannot book appointments, but it will provide users with a link to schedule the appointment through the location’s website or with a phone number to call to make an appointment. The website is backed up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is updated daily.

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 already 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 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.

Some residents have expressed confusion on social media stating that they’ve seen people who are not part of the eligible groups who were lucky enough to walk up and receive a vaccine. City health officials did not immediately say if they’ve seen this happen, however, if people attempt to simply a walk-up without an appointment, but all of them are taken for that day, then they will be offered a future appointment.

California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal.

The mask mandate in the nation’s most populated state will stay in effect, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, and he cautioned that California will reopen more widely in mid-June only if vaccine supply is sufficient and hospitalization rates stay stable and low.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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