SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Just north of San Diego County, seniors in Riverside County started receiving COVID-19 vaccines Thursday — unlike local seniors.
Sources tell ABC 10News in the long lines at the vaccination super station near Petco Park are seniors who don't work in health care. They made appointments but were turned away on Thursday.
Despite the state opening up COVID vaccines for those 65 and older, the county on Wednesday said they weren't ready to move into that phase at county-run sites. Among the reasons: supply. Those concerns don't appear to be as limiting in Riverside County.
"Clearly there is a desire for vaccinations," said Jose Arballo, a spokesperson for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
Arballo says after they began taking appointments for seniors on Wednesday, their vaccine appointments for the rest of the week filled up immediately.
"Thousands of slots gone. That was just in four hours," said Arballo.
So why is Riverside County able to open up vaccine eligibility? Could supply be the answer? So far, Riverside County has administered less than a third of the nearly 115,000 doses received.
Two weeks ago, Riverside County officials reported about half of all medical workers had declined the vaccine. Although Arballo says many have since changed their mind, in San Diego County, the decline rate is believed to be much lower.
UCSD Health says only 3% of its workers have declined the vaccine.
With the local vaccine supply so tight, will San Diegans now head north?
"I know people are anxious. They want to get the vaccine. We are asking for patience," said Arballo.
Arballo says for seniors to qualify for a vaccine in Riverside County, you must either live or work in Riverside County.
"Let’s say you live in Escondido and work in Temecula. Or you split homes between San Diego and Riverside. You would be qualified," said Arballo.
To receive the vaccine, you must be 65 years or older, make an online appointment, bring identification, and show proof of residency or workplace location.
Arballo says San Diegans who volunteer at a nonprofit in Riverside County would also qualify. Proof of the volunteering and nonprofit location would be required.