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CA Groups Work to Reduce Wasted Vaccine Doses

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Community groups are mobilizing to create standby lists so extra vaccine doses no longer go to waste.(Nomevizzualizato/Morguefile)
Community groups are mobilizing to create standby lists so extra vaccine doses no longer go to waste.(Nomevizzualizato/Morguefile)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
March 10, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Multiple groups are scrambling to find ways to make sure precious COVID vaccine doses are used by the end of each day, instead of having to be thrown out.

Some local clinics have resorted to vaccinating people who happen to be close at hand; others have their staff members hurry to call in friends and family.

Leah Russin, executive director of the advocacy group Vaccinate California, is working with community groups in the Bay Area to create a more equitable system of waiting lists to improve outreach to lower-income communities.

"A local community organizer, either associated with a Black church or a community center, or a legal-aid society will have pulled together ahead of time a list of people who are otherwise eligible but haven't yet scheduled their dose," she said.

Meanwhile, two companies, Force for Good and Sheer ID, launched a free new website last week. On extravaccinenotifier.com, people can sign up to be notified if a local clinic or pharmacy has extra doses. A second site, HiDrB.com, is gearing up to do something similar, but is not yet active in California.

Catherine Flores, executive director of the California Immunization Coalition, said the problem is the sheer complexity of generating a waiting list that reaches the neediest patients, while protecting people's privacy.

"I think a lot of the states and a lot of the organizations were not prepared in a lot of ways," she said. "I think this is one of those things that they still are struggling with."

The State of California's website is myturn.ca.gov, where people can register to be notified when it's their turn to sign up for a regular vaccine appointment. Now, however, only people age 65 and older or in certain high-risk occupations are eligible.

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