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Riverside County announces 10,000 new coronavirus vaccine appointments – Press-Enterprise


Jan 23, 2021

Riverside County is making 10,000 more appointments available starting at noon Saturday, Jan. 23, for upcoming coronavirus vaccination clinics in Corona, Menifee, Beaumont and Indio, officials said Friday, Jan. 22.

The announcement comes amid ongoing public anger over a glitch-filled online appointment sign-up system. The county is switching websites in an effort to make the process smoother. However, the new site, which is live now and looks like the old one, will still rely on a state registration portal that’s left many residents furious after filling out online forms only to find there’s no appointments to be had.

The upcoming clinics will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday, Jan. 25, through Friday, Jan. 29, at the following locations:

  • Corona High School, 1150 W. 10th St.
  • Heritage High School, 26001 Briggs Road, Menifee
  • San Gorgonio Middle School, 1591 Cherry Ave., Beaumont
  • Indio Fairgrounds (Fullenwider Auditorium), 46350 Arabia St., Indio

The clinics on Mondays and Fridays are only open to seniors.

Appointment sign-ups for the clinics can be made at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine starting at noon Saturday. Residents 65 and older who need help registering can call 211.

The vaccines are free, but those getting them must register prior to arrival, have an appointment and show proof of eligibility. Health insurance information will be requested, but not required.

Riverside County is currently offering vaccines to residents 65 and older; health care workers, law enforcement, first responders and food and agriculture workers. While an estimated 700,000 county residents are eligible to be vaccinated, the county has received just 157,775 doses, county spokeswoman Brooke Federico said Friday.

In San Bernardino County, officials are working with operators of several sites that could serve as “super sites” for vaccinations, spokesman David Wert said. An announcement is planned next week.

Since launching online vaccine sign-ups last week, Riverside County has seen overwhelming demand for very limited vaccine supplies. It took just 32 minutes Thursday, Jan. 21, before all 3,900 available appointments at six weekend clinics in Lake Elsinore, Perris and Indio were claimed.

After the appointment window opened, county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser tweeted that the county was “aware that some of our residents are having difficulty accessing the vaccination appointments on our website … Keep refreshing your screen.”

Thursday evening, county officials said “ a technical issue in the website code” popped up when the appointment window opened.

While the county promised a new website, officials said it will still connect to the state’s vaccine registration portal and that “if all appointments are booked when completing the state’s registration, users will not be able to secure a time.”

In an email Friday, Federico said there were two main issues. First, the county’s website didn’t “perform as required” Thursday, she said, adding that the new site will solve that.

Second, the county’s site links to the state’s, which “requires residents to enter personal information before securing a timeslot.” That led to many filling out online forms before learning “there were no more available times,” Federico said.

“Simply, the state system is not designed like Ticketmaster,” she said, adding that county officials have raised the concern with the state.

“If the county were to use a different registration system, it would create a duplicate and burdensome process that would slow down the county’s efforts to administer as much vaccine as quickly as possible.”

In an email to Riverside County supervisors and other leaders, Temecula resident Julie Edmunds detailed her frustration trying to get appointments for a colleague’s mother and her sister-in-law’s grandparents.

After using six computers, two phones and nine internet browsers, Edmunds and her colleague got three appointments, only to see them canceled with no opportunity to reschedule, wrote Edmunds. She managed to get the first dose of vaccine along with her husband as both work for a school district.

“These are vaccines (and) not concert tickets or camping reservations,” Edmunds wrote.

“ … While I am happy to help every eligible person I know get appointments, what happens to the elderly people who have no one to help them? … How are we as a county relying on a system that by its very nature excludes the people who need the vaccine the most?”

The county’s 211 number helps seniors and those without Internet access get an appointment, although residents have complained about not being able to get through to that number.

Adding to the frustration, residents with vaccine appointments this week at two Albertsons in Riverside County had their appointments canceled.

Limited staffing forced the cancellation of appointments at the Murrieta Albertsons, company spokeswoman Melissa Hill wrote in an email, while a scheduling error that led to double booking forced cancellations at the Albertsons in Corona.

In both cases, patients with canceled appointments will be accommodated at nearby Vons pharmacies next week, Hill said.

“These were isolated incidents, and we are working on accommodating as many of these patients as quickly as we can,” she said, adding that pharmacies at Albertsons and Vons will soon start taking new appointments.

Riverside resident Gracie Torres spent the day Thursday trying to get county vaccine appointments for her parents in Beaumont. After she and her siblings tried several times, the family got an appointment for their mom. But the website kept crashing and slots filled so quickly that Torres couldn’t get one for her dad.

Torres’ parents, Felipe and Graciela Rivera, 70 and 65, had survived bouts with the coronavirus in summer and the family didn’t want to take any chances.

“It’s frustrating because some of us haven’t seen our parents in almost a year,” Torres said. “I refuse to find out they won’t have access and that it will close again. When they announced the vaccines, there was a glimmer of hope … but that was instantly taken away. I know (the county) is trying their best, but it’s incredibly frustrating.”

Torres is also board president of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, a Jurupa Valley non-profit group that for the past week has been helping schedule appointments for Inland seniors and low-income families of color. None of their contacts have landed appointments through the county so far, but will keep trying.

“These are families of front-liners who are exposed, or older people without access to the Internet. They don’t know when appointments open up. How can they get through, when in just minutes everything is crashing?”

Richard Gainer, a 65-year-old resident of Corona who called 211 on Thursday, was put on hold for an hour as he sought appointments for himself and his wife — only to see the slots fill up.

He likened his experience to getting tickets for a Paul McCartney concert decades ago.

“I got on the phone and after 10 minutes, was able to get the tickets — but I found out that his concert had sold out in 14 minutes,” said Gainer. “If I hadn’t gotten those tickets, I would have lived through it. But this is a very different situation. People are now doing this because they want to live.”


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