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High demand for limited appointments as Riverside County coronavirus vaccination clinics expand eligibility

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RIVCO NO APPTS 01142021 RJJ

Hundreds of people lined up in Beaumont on Thursday as they waited to receive their first vaccine against coronavirus.

The Beaumont clinic is the first in a new series of public health clinics in Riverside County since the expansion of eligibility to include more people than ever before.

"It was a little tricky signing up but I think it’s because it was just in the beginning," said Riverside County resident, Debbie Casden.

While there were issues online for some people to make an appointment, others managed to do so seamlessly.

"I made the appointment online at ruhealth.org and it was painless," said Banning resident, Charlie Friese.

Appointments were mandatory for the vaccination site, and those who did not have one were turned away. Despite having appointments, most people found themselves waiting in line for more than an hour. All vaccines were eventually used at the Beaumont site with none left over.

Appointments opened up late Wednesday afternoon, and within a few hours of clinics being posted online, the appointments filled up. As of Wednesday night, there are no appointments available.

County of Riverside health officials tell News Channel 3 they are working to establish additional vaccination clinic dates and will announce them soon.

MORE: Seniors and more essential workers can start getting vaccinated today, here’s how to make an appointment

"I went online. It didn’t really clarify that you had to go make an appointment so my husband and I got up early, went there, and they told us 'no' you have to have an appointment," said Cherry Valley resident, Jerrie Offerdahl.

Offerdahl and her husband were turned away.

"There was no other place directing you where to go to make an appointment because all you saw was that all these appointments were full, and you could get nowhere else to make a future appointment," said Offerdahl.

Offerdahl has been eager to get vaccinated before needing surgery, which was recently canceled due to coronavirus. She and her husband are now among the group that qualifies to receive vaccines. Realizing that she'd have to continuously keep a close eye on the website added to the frustration of making an appointment.

"That’s crazy because we’re older people and a lot of us aren’t savvy on the computer. A lot of them don’t even know how to get on the site or even have computers," she said.

Riverside County is currently waiting to rollout more vaccination appointments based on vaccine allotment, according to a county spokesperson.

"Just continue to monitor the website, www.ruhealth.org. Look at the vaccine button," said Riverside County Department of Public Health spokesperson, Jose Arballo.

The Beaumont site will likely become a permanent vaccination site, according to Arballo.

"We are going to be working hard to expand a number of clinics that we offer. We’ll be offering expanding out to the Coachella Valley probably next week beyond the Indio Fairgrounds," said Arballo.

Residents in tier 1 of Phase 1B will also be allowed to get vaccinated: people aged 65 and over and select essential workers, such as those in education, child care, emergency services and food and agriculture.

Vaccines are available for the following individuals who live or work in Riverside County:

  • Acute Care
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities (medically vulnerable individuals)
  • First Responders (paramedic/EMTs)
  • Correctional Hospitals
  • Behavior Health (psychiatric)
  • Dialysis Centers (staff)
  • Pharmacist & Pharmacy Staff
  • Intermediate Care Facilities
  • Education
  • Law Enforcement
  • Home Health and IHSS
  • Public Health (field)/DPSS
  • Community Health Workers
  • Primary Care & Community Clinics
  • Urgent Cares (stand-alone)
  • Specialty Clinics
  • Laboratory Workers
  • Dental/Oral Health Clinics
  • Mortuary Services Industries
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Emergency Services

Inoculation is free, but people will be asked to provide medical insurance information, although insurance is not required. People planning to get vaccinated must register in advance and bring the required paperwork to prove their eligibility.

The following clinics will open up on Thursday, and will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, with the exception of Martin Luther King Day on Monday:

   -- Corona High School, 1150 W. 10th St.;

   -- Heritage High School, 26001 Briggs Road, Menifee; and

   -- San Gorgonio Middle School, 1591 Cherry Ave., Beaumont;

On Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore will be the site of a one-day drive-up vaccination clinic reserved for people aged 65 and older. The stadium is located at 500 Diamond Drive.

On Sunday, a one-day drive-up vaccine clinic will be held in Indio at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, 46350 Arabia St., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although all online appointments are full as of Thursday morning.

The clinics will be open to all permitted tiers. There are also other community partners offering vaccinations right now, including pharmacies inside Ralphs, Vons and Pavilions.

You can view who is eligible for a vaccine right now and all available vaccination locations by visiting www.ruhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Seniors who need additional help making an appointment can call the Riverside County Office of Aging for assistance: (800) 510-2020.

(UPDATE 1/14/21 - Appointments are currently full and phone lines are busy. We will continue to check for updates on new appointments)

Download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store or Google Play to get alerts on when new appointments or vaccine clinics are available.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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Download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store or Google Play for breaking news alerts with the latest local coronavirus news, including vaccine updates, news reopenings and closings, new case data, live news conferences, and more.

For questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, call 833.422.4255 or visit https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines. You may also email: rivco.vaccines@ruhealth.org.

You can also watch a special edition of News Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. in which top local health experts answer your coronavirus vaccine questions.

Watch the special Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on CBS Local 2 and Fox 11.

Coronavirus / Coronavirus: Questions Answered / Top Stories

Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

KESQ News Team

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