4 Ways to get a COVID Vaccine in the Bay Area

6 mins read

More and more people are now eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine. As of Thursday, April 15, it was announced that anyone 16 years and older is qualified to sign up for one. This means that millions of Californians are trying to secure vaccine appointments and this is where the complication begins. 

A mishap at a manufacturer in Baltimore affected 15 million doses of vaccine. This resulted in a nationwide shortage of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, including California’s supply. 

Recently. San Francisco faced shortages at a newly-opened drop-in vaccine site. 

Due to these circumstances, it will take a bit of time and patience in securing vaccines. However, SFGATE reported that it has spoken with dozens of people that have already gotten their vaccines and have recorded the multiple ways you can get one. 

Unofficial websites and bots

Establishments like pharmacies, grocery stores, hospital chains, and counties have individual platforms that you can check for appointments. However, they are de-centralized and might be a hassle to successfully use. You can read more about it here. 

Aside from that, there are also third-party alternatives that have been launched to aid people to secure vaccine appointments. Websites, Twitter accounts, and other social media platforms have helped as a one-stop source. It doesn’t secure a perfect availability but all are convenient to use and can pull information from a wide range of sources. 

Examples of this service are @CovidVaccineBA, a Twitter bot that scans Bay Area sites for spare vaccines and @VaccineCA, another Twitter bot that checks CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies in California. 

Websites like VaccinateCA.com and Vaccine Spotter can also collect vaccine appointments from different sources. 

Schedule on MyTurn

MyTurn is California’s state-sponsored vaccine website. It’s not as comprehensive as you think as it only grabs vaccine availability from a few places. However, it’s an official website and can be a place to help you with your appointment. 

Here are a few tips that can help: 

Sylvia Hays told SFGATE: “When I looked for an appointment I scrolled all the way to September and nothing was available. Then I scrolled back to April and the information had downloaded.  It seems the pages need time to load.”

Another reader, D. Karlsson, said that scheduling an appointment is like getting a ticket on Ticketmaster. “They just keep releasing a few more each day, and you just have to keep hitting the buttons,” Karlsson said. Do so every hour on the hour, if you have the time and patience.

Two Bay Area teenagers, Sam Mendelson and Daniel Stoiber, also created a video guide on how to navigate the site. Aside from that, they also created a Twitter bot that posts MyTurn appointments. 

Visit Drop-In Vaccination Sites (for specific parts in SF)

San Francisco has two vaccination sites open for areas that are most affected by COVID-19. However, these sites have faced supply issues in the past week. 

Individuals who are 16 years and over and who live in the following SF-are ZIP codes – 94124, 94134, 94107, 94110, 94112, 94102, 94103, and 94130 – can visit the drop-in vaccine sites that do not require reservations. 

Zuckerberg San Francisco General at 1001 Potrero Ave. is open daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m and offers both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to those aged 16 and over. 

Southeast Health Center at 2401 Keith St., is open daily, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.and carries only the Moderna vaccine. 

Anyone 18 and over in one of these areas can drop in at the Southeast Health Center at 2401 Keith St., daily, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This location carries just the Moderna vaccine.

Out-of-county excess vaccines (Drive out and be responsible)

There are vaccine groups on Facebook and Nextdoor that have popularized the idea of taking leftover doses from counties that have excess vaccines. However, before even considering this method, there are ethical considerations that need to be considered, such as making sure that you are not taking vaccines from areas that need it. 

San Francisco resident David Wang was hesitant to take the vaccine from the International Agri-Center, which announced that it has vaccines to spare. 

He booked an appointment with his girlfriend, his sister, and her boyfriend. The group then traveled 237 miles each way to reach the vaccination site. It was almost a four-hour drive each way but Wang said that it was “so worth it.”

“It was really important for me and my family to find ethical shots,” Wang said. “We were not going to cheat or lie or exaggerate medical conditions to get a shot.”

More information on this option is available here.