The process of getting a vaccine appointment in Riverside County hasn't always been easy. The rollout for certain groups has been met with delays and error messages, but as the weeks progress Riverside County's system is increasingly becoming more user friendly.
Now on the county's website, there is a specific direction users can take to learn when and where first dose appointments are available. A second option allows users who have received their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine a chance to see the status of invitations that the county has sent out for those who are needing to receive their second dose.
"The website was just overloaded last time. A couple months ago it would drop you. As you got appointments, there was just too many people making appointments at one time," said La Quinta resident, Cheryl Gemignani.
Gemignani and her husband showed up to the Indio Fairgrounds on Saturday to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This time around, both agreed making an appointment was much easier than about a month ago.
"I was trying for about 2 weeks. It was frustrating just because it was either 75 and above, or they were full or they were so far out it would have been an hours drive for me," said Cathedral City resident, Paul Doyle.
Doyle also received his first dose of the vaccine in Indio on Saturday. He was among roughly one thousand people who were scheduled for a vaccine at that location. Fortunately, there were hardly lines throughout the day, making it a much faster process than weeks prior.
"Just had to show our ID, and we had appointments, we got here a little early, there was no waiting," said Cathedral City resident, Donna Boatman.
The changes on the county's end have been widespread to make the process of getting a vaccine much more seamless than when they first rolled out.
"Online is one of those areas where we’ve learned a lot. Obviously there's a number of hiccups with that system and it’s not just with the county side," said Riverside County Emergency Management Department Communications Specialist, Shane Reichardt. "Once they get into the county system they’re going to a state website to actually schedule their appointment, so making sure the two websites work together, the availability is different."
People who pull into the clinic are prescreened to confirm they have an appointment and meet the criteria to eliminate confusion and delays.
"If they arrive extra early, say an hour early, we’re having them wait in their car until about 15 minutes before their appointment," said Reichardt.
Even with all the measures in place, there was one issue that was out of the county's control. Last week's severe weather in other parts of the country caused delays in shipments of the Moderna vaccine.
"Where the impacts were felt were people who were expecting their second dose of Moderna. For people who were getting their first dose, whether they get Moderna or they get Pfizer, they’re still getting a vaccination so we were able to change the schedule from Moderna to Pfizer," said Reichardt.
Reichardt said about 200 second dose appointments in Indio had to be rescheduled. Those people were notified, but there were some that did not get the notification until they showed up Saturday and had to be turned away, according to Reichardt.
"They need to schedule an appointment once we’ve got that Moderna on hand, then they could get their second dose."
It's unclear when the county will receive the delayed shipment, although Reichardt expected it not to take too long.