Time crunch for 50 and up crowd to get vaccinated before eligibility expands April 15

Starting April 1, all Californians 50 and older are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to state officials, that puts 11 million more people in the pipeline when there is limited vaccine supply available. It leaves counties and residents in a bind since they have only two weeks before everyone 16 and up becomes eligible.

And so the race is on to find a slot.

"By the time you clicked the different boxes that you're qualified, it's gone," says Liz Stewart of Santa Clara County.

Stewart stayed up until midnight and woke up early, and she tried everything from pharmacies, to county sites, to her local health provider.

"I selected all locations and the only one was in Yuba City so I was having to look up how do you get to Yuba City. I'm glad I don't have to drive to Yuba City," she says.

The AARP has been advocating at the state level, making sure older adults are given priority. They just wish that priority window was longer.

"We are very concerned that the short period is too short given the challenges with the supply and access to technology," says Rafi Nazarians, Associate State Director for the AARP of California.

In Marin County, they recognize the concern.

Thirty thousand residents there just became eligible and all won't get appointments right away. So they'll continue to block out times just for them, even later in the month.

"We're able to gatekeep still for certain days, certain clinics. So if there are residents ages 50-64 who haven't had a chance to be vaccinated, once we open the floodgates to everyone on April 15th, we're able to maintain protected access for those individuals," says Dr. Matt Willis, Public Health Officer of Marin County.

Stewart, who lives in Santa Clara County, ultimately did get an appointment thanks to perseverance and a friend who checks a vaccine message board.

"There wasn't anything earlier and then something opened up and only because a friend of mine saw that and told me check it. So everybody is talking to everybody else," she says.

And while most Bay Area counties opened appointments to those 50 and up today, Contra Costa and Solano Counties have already skipped ahead, opening to everyone 16 and up before the April 15 target date.