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Californians 50 and above can start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine today. Here's what you need to know

Eligibility will be opening up, but it won't necessarily make getting an appointment from Kaiser or Sutter Health easier, at least for now.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Starting April 1, people 50 and older will be eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s one of two expected waves in eligibility that will take place in April. The other wave is expected on April 15, when people 16 and older become eligible.

Public health departments and providers across California are bracing for the change, but there’s a key message right now. Simply enough, more eligibility doesn’t necessarily mean more vaccine, at least not yet.

Here’s what to expect when eligibility opens up on April 1.

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Vaccine options

Currently approved vaccines in California are the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Of the three, Johnson & Johnson is the only one that is a single shot. Moderna and Pfizer will require you to make two trips, one for your first dose and another for the second dose.

The three vaccines have differing efficacies, but, according to the CDC, they are all considered safe and effective at preventing COVID-19.

Vaccinefinder.org is able to help you find specific vaccine’s in your area, but it is not used for appointments and can’t determine eligibility.

More information on the vaccines is available at the following links: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson.

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MyTurn appointments

People over 50 are able to schedule an appointment over the MyTurn.ca.gov website. It’s not the only location you’ll be able to make appointments though, some counties have walk-up clinics and other providers like pharmacies and hospitals might have their own sites.

Even then, places like Kaiser Permanente say they’ll be reaching out to their clients by phone, text, or mail to set up appointments when the slots become available. 

Getting a vaccine at Kaiser Permanente

While Kaiser welcomes the broadening of vaccine eligibility, the expectation is that demand will exceed supply.

Prescheduled appointments ahead of the state’s timeline aren’t available yet, but if Kaiser is your provider, they’ll be reaching out to members 50 and older through text, email, phone, or letter to let them know when and how to schedule an appointment.

You can find updates at Kp.org. Kaiser is recommending that people get their vaccine as soon as they are able to do so.

“The opening up of eligibility for all is a welcome sign that we will soon be able to put this pandemic behind us. We encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able,” Kaiser said, in part, in a statement to ABC10.

Getting a vaccine at Sutter Health

Sutter Health will be following the state’s guidance for eligibility for all their service areas. They will also be notifying their patients and updating information on their COVID-19 vaccination site.

That being said, the hospital says supply is key. 

“Our ability to actually schedule appointments for patients remains dependent on supply,” a Sutter spokesperson said in a statement to ABC10. “While our first-dose allocations remain low, we are hopeful that the significant volume of vaccine that California is receiving will positively impact Sutter’s allocation and enable us to fully utilize the capacity we’ve built across Northern California to vaccinate more than 25,000 patients a day.”

Information on how to book an appointment is available HERE.

Getting a vaccine in Stanislaus County

Stanislaus County has chosen to get ahead of the state’s timeline, and on April 1, they’ll be opening up vaccinations for every resident 16 and older.

Kamlesh Kaur, a spokesperson for Stanislaus County public health, said the state allows provider discretion to vaccinate people in high-impact areas. They made the call to do so because 23 out of 24 zip codes in the county fall into that category

Known for their walk-in mass vaccination clinics in Patterson, Oakdale, Turlock and Modesto, the county will keep those sites up and running for as long as supplies last. Vaccine appointments will only be available to Stanislaus County residents and can be made on my turn.

A full list of vaccine providers in the county is available HERE.

Getting a vaccine in San Joaquin County

Eligibility for residents 50 and older will be opened up on April 1. Unlike Stanislaus, they’ll be following the state’s timeline for residents 16 and older.

A spokesperson for San Joaquin County’s Office of Emergency Services said the decision is based on the vaccine allocation being based on that timeline.

Vaccine events can be found on SJready.org. People can expect newer events to follow the current guidance.

Getting a COVID test is still recommended

With more people getting vaccinated, health officials emphasized the importance of COVID testing. It’s tied into how counties will move into less restrictive reopening tiers and stop any potential spread of the virus.

Even if you are vaccinated, county officials recommend getting tested.

“It helps our community stop the spread and protect others when one is aware of their status,” said Kaur said. “Individuals who are vaccinated should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if they have been around someone who is sick. If one has symptoms of COVID-19, they should get tested and stay home and away from others.”

The San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services (SJOES) echoed the comments from Stanislaus.

"Not only does testing help us open, but testing helps with prompt diagnosis, treatment, and isolation to protect others," SJOES told ABC10, in part, in a statement. "Due to asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmissions and new strains or variants, testing individuals with and without symptoms is part of the pandemic control strategy."

While testing will still be around, there are some things that open up to people post-vaccination. For a list of what’s open to you after vaccination, click HERE to visit the CDC’s walkthrough.

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