People travel hours to get COVID-19 vaccine after appointment delays in San Luis Obispo County

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 18:52:06-05

With a limited supply of doses and appointments, some people are traveling outside San Luis Obispo County to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

People eligible for the vaccine are driving from San Luis Obispo County to Bakersfield and Los Angeles to get their shots because they say they couldn’t book one locally through county public health clinics or other providers like CVS.

"It was about five hours of being on hold, waiting, hoping that we could get in. Sometimes we could get close but never ringing the bell,” explained Pismo Beach resident Jack Krasner.

Krasner and his wife, Ronnie, spent hours trying to get an appointment in San Luis Obispo County through public health.

“We were on every platform possible to look for something locally. Ronnie had her kids in Massachusetts trying to get us in and it was impossible,” Krasner said.

He's not the only one stuck on hold.

“I sat on hold, and then I went online and they said there were no more appointments available,” said Arroyo Grande resident Georgi Sneckner-Longboya.

With no luck locally, some people are traveling hours away to get vaccinated.

“We found a site in Bakersfield which is only a mere 133 miles away and that was the ticket,” Krasner said.

Krasner and Sneckner-Longboya both booked appointments at a CVS in Bakersfield last week.

“It was relatively painless, but it's a long drive, but when you think of getting it, the vaccine, we are a leg up now,” Sneckner-Longboya said.

Before arriving, it was unclear if they would be turned away for not living in Kern County.

"We want to encourage eligible patients to use our online scheduling tool to find a location that is convenient for them to access. As part of the scheduling process, patients are asked to attest that all information provided during appointment set-up is truthful and accurate. Some states also require the collection of IDs to verify eligibility and we are complying with that requirement."
Monica Prinzing, CVS spokeswoman
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Sneckner-Longboya said when booking her vaccination appointments, she provided her address, age, and insurance information.

When she got to her appointment, she says the CVS employee asked for her ID to verify her information and eligibility to get the vaccine.

“[CVS asks for] your ID in general, they wanted to see where you live, but they didn't ask what county we were in. They asked us for [our address], but didn't dismiss us because of it,” Sneckner-Longboya said.

Krasner and his wife were in and out of the Central Valley pharmacy in no time.

“We waited for a total of probably 15 minutes from standing and waiting in line outdoors to getting the injection,” Krasner said.

The appointment for his second vaccine dose was booked when he checked in for the first. He says the second time around, he’ll be able to get it at a CVS in Santa Maria.

“It’s now only 22 miles from my home, so that’s good,” he said.

With the help of her oncologist, one Arroyo Grande cancer survivor drove to a UCLA Health clinic in Calabasas to get her vaccine after striking out on the Central Coast.

“I'm fine driving three hours to get the vaccine. I can't complain. I got a vaccine and I know a lot of people would love to drive three hours to get a vaccine,” Carolayne Holley said.

To get a vaccine at a San Luis Obispo County Public Health clinic, you must live in the county and show proof of residency, according to public health officials.

CLICK HERE for information on vaccine appointments in San Luis Obispo County.

CLICK HERE for information on booking a vaccination at a participating CVS Pharmacy location. Appointments must be booked online.