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California makes it easier for anyone to get COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering

A female pharmacist holds a vaccine vial.
Pharmacist Marie Antonette Tambot prepares Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif.
(Associated Press)

California is making it easier for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering at vaccine clinics.

The state launched a volunteer page on its My Turn vaccination scheduling system last week to streamline the process for medical workers and the general public to volunteer. Counties have already made the volunteering option available, but the move by the state is expected to make the process more accessible to people who would otherwise not be eligible for the vaccine.

“A volunteer that completes a shift of four hours or more is eligible to receive a vaccination as along as a clinic administrator provides that approval,” Dave Smith of the governor’s California Volunteers office said last week during a vaccine advisory committee meeting.

Those who are interested in volunteering can do so by going to myturnvolunteer.ca.gov. Medical workers, such as doctors and nurses, will be required to verify their medical license in order to register as a vaccinator, vaccine prep supporter or patient observer. Nonmedical volunteers, known as general support volunteers, can sign up to assist with vaccine registration and administration support or as a site greeter. Some vaccine sites may require a background check.

Residents can select their shift availability by ZIP Code and time. Prospective volunteers are asked whether they’re willing to travel beyond the ZIP Code range they’ve selected and whether they’ve received their vaccine shot.

Although volunteers will be eligible for the vaccine, they are not guaranteed a dose immediately after a shift. Access to a same-day shot is contingent on supply levels at county-run or city-run sites. If a vaccine site doesn’t receive its expected allocation on any given day, volunteer time slots will be canceled.

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California has been ramping up access by opening more vaccine sites and increasing the number of site staff and volunteers. Dentists and pharmacists have also been enlisted to assist with vaccine distribution.

With counties’ ability to reopen now closely tied to vaccine distribution, capacity and supply levels have become much more critical. Recently, officials announced that the state was prepared to administer 3 million doses each week, but supply of doses is dependent on the federal government.

The state expects doses to significantly increase over the next few months following promises from the Biden administration and the authorization of the single-use Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To date, the state has administered more than 10.5 million doses. The number has fallen short of the state’s initial goal to administer roughly 12.5 million doses by the end of February, but supply has steadily increased over time.


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