Looking to get vaccinated against the coronavirus but struggling to know how and where to book one? You’re not alone. The deployment of the much-anticipated COVID-19 gunfire has been anything but fluid and has resulted in widespread frustration, system crashes and clogged phone lines.
With the warning that the situation is changing every day, if not hourly, here’s what you need to know about how different Bay Area healthcare providers are handling coronavirus vaccines.
Q: Who can get vaccinated now?
A: California said this week that residents 65 and older are now eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. It sounds good on paper, but the reality is a bit – or a lot – messy. Previously, the state had said healthcare workers and people living in nursing homes and other facilities were on the front lines. And with hospitals and counties struggling to get vaccine doses, many of that first category still haven’t been vaccinated. So just because Sacramento state officials have announced expanded access doesn’t mean that health care providers who do immunization are willing to expand access.
Q: So if I’m over 65, does that mean I can’t get the vaccine?
A: Not necessarily. Since the United States has a fragmented health care system, the answer is it depends. If you have a health care provider, this should be your place to start. Below is a list of what some of the leading providers in the Bay Area are telling patients about how and where to make an appointment and who is eligible. Some counties are also setting up mass vaccination sites – think shootouts in large stadiums – but they generally urge people with access to private health care to go this route.
Kaiser publishes information about vaccines on its website. The HMO says it schedules limited vaccine appointments for people 65 and older. Patients are advised to call 866-454-8855 to schedule a vaccine. This call center was overcrowded on Friday and a recording told people to call back tomorrow. Kaiser said in a statement he expects an online reservation system to be in place next week.
Sutter Health (Palo Alto Medical Foundation)
Sutter’s vaccine website says it schedules appointments for people aged 75 and over, prioritizing patients most at risk. Sutter patients can call 844-987-6115 to make an appointment or log into their My Health Online portal to book an hour online.
The Stanford coronavirus site says it vaccinates its primary care patients, but eligibility varies by county. Residents of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties who are at least 75 years of age can be vaccinated at 2585 Samaritan Dr., San Jose. Stanford plans to notify patients 65 and over in Alameda and Contra Costa counties early next week of vaccination locations in the region. Eligible patients can book an appointment through the MyHealth portal or by calling 650-498-9000.
Stanford also suggests that residents consider the vaccination options offered by their county. (More information below.)
Health El Camino
El Camino allows residents of Santa Clara County aged 75 and over to make an appointment for a vaccine. El Camino says patients should make an appointment online.
John Muir Health
John Muir says he plans to start vaccinating those 75 and over during the week of Jan. 25 and will contact patients to make an appointment. He will contact patients using Patient Portal messages, emails, text messages and phone calls.
Q: I don’t have a primary care provider, but I’m over 65 and want a vaccine. What do I do?
A: This is where the county health services come in. Here’s how the Bay Area counties handle vaccinations.
Alameda is currently limiting her vaccinations to health workers, but said she plans to expand to others in the coming weeks. The county’s website allows residents to sign up to receive notification when they are able to schedule a vaccine.
Contra Costa County
Contra Costa schedules vaccine appointments for residents 65 and over. Eligible residents can complete an online form to request an appointment.
San Francisco County
San Francisco has implemented an online notification system that residents can sign up for. Starting January 19, eligible residents and workers can receive a text or email letting them know it’s their turn to get the vaccine.
San Mateo County
San Mateo still limits its vaccines to health workers, residents and staff in long-term care homes. The county’s website will be updated when people 65 and over can make an appointment for a vaccination.
Santa Clara County
The Santa Clara County website says it is able to schedule vaccinations for people aged 75 and older who live in the county, including patients at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. The county says patients from Kaiser, PAMF and Stanford are not eligible and must book with these providers.
Q: I am younger and not a health worker, but I still want a vaccine. When can I get one?
A: The short answer is, we don’t know yet, but hopefully by the middle of the year. It depends on a variety of factors, from how the Biden administration is approaching the coronavirus pandemic, to how quickly and quickly major healthcare providers are ramping up their vaccination plans.
Check back for updates.