SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In California, now that those 50 years old and up are eligible to get their coronavirus vaccines, appointments have been tough to come by because of a limited supply of doses.
Still, there are helpers dubbed as "vaccine angels" working to help set people up with appointments who might not have access to a computer, internet or a primary care provider.
"I hear you’ve been having some challenges with getting a COVID-19 vaccine scheduled?" Dr. Beatrice Tetteh, Medical Director and owner of Tetteh Pediatric Health, asked an ABC10 viewer struggling to book an appointment over the phone.
Her pediatric health office is one of 14 different community-based organizations, including Sacramento NAACP, the South Sacramento Christian Center and several others working with Sacramento City councilwoman Mai Vang’s office to help fill a certain number of vaccine appointment slots at South Sacramento's Pannell Center every week.
"Do you have a medical office where you receive care?” she asked.
If you need help finding an appointment, people are told to call one of those organizations like her office.
“I think right now, really with the COVID-19, it comes down to, you don’t have to be specially trained in different areas, it just has to be a matter of being willing to help someone out," she said.
She says she’s been fielding many calls like one ABC10 got from a viewer with disabilities, 65-year-old Ricardo Rodrigues in Stockton.
“But they don’t consider people that cannot or don’t know how to use a computer or live by themselves and don’t have the help to get a shot so my experience has been h-e-l-l," Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues says he was turned away from his local pharmacy because he doesn’t own a computer.
“They just told me that I need an appointment, oh ok I’ll go on the internet when you teach me how," he said. "I’m old school, I don’t know how to use the internet!”
Tetteh said, for his specific situation, all he needs to do is call his local primary care provider. Something he didn’t even know was an option.
"Yeah, you know what? I’m going to call my doctor when I’m done talking with you!" he said.
And she says, Rodrigues is not alone.
“When we’re making the registration process only online, only with an email address, it is cutting out a number of people that really need to get this vaccine and are not able to," she said.
Those who are tech-savvy can try websites like Vaccine Finder or Vaccine Fairy, but for those who are not, dialing 2-1-1 in Sacramento is set up to help schedule vaccine appointments and there’s help in several languages too.
“Definitely the demand is going to be a lot higher than the supply, but at this time, part of it is just, please be patient and knowing that, ok if you don’t get in the week of April 15, give it a little time, you can get in the week after," she said.