vaccine shortage

Bay Area Residents Struggle to Secure Their COVID-19 Vaccine

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Now that we know that a flood of people will soon be seeking appointments to get the vaccine, they may be tough to find -- especially when supply has been limited. 

Janet Pitcher is a costume designer by trade and like many, she has been forced to pivot. Now she spends her days on her sewing machine making masks she sells online.  

Then she started making them for hospital workers.

“Some other friends reached out and said ‘we need masks at the hospital.’ I said ‘OK, all I need is to figure out a pattern.’ I have a pattern, I can make masks,” she said. 

Then the COVID-19 vaccines started rolling out, getting her first shot was no problem but her second shot was a different story.

“Our second shot was scheduled during the freeze. Modernas were not getting out here to California and Petco Park, they didn’t have them,” said Pitcher.

Her appointment was canceled three times. She jumped on her computer and started hunting.

“I said ‘oh I think I’m the vaccine whisper and then it kind of stuck,’” she said.

Pitcher started finding vaccines and booking appointments for her family, then her friends.

The California COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter is one of the sites Pitcher uses. You put in your ZIP code and hit search. Then you will see what appointments are available in your area.

Don’t be afraid to search all the different ZIP codes.

“Honestly my biggest source of appointments is through the actual pharmacies,” said Pitcher. “They tend to load their appointments after midnight.”

Another good time to find appointments she says is between 6 and 7 a.m.

“Those Facebook groups really have a lot of information and a lot of good information and people who want to help,” said Pitcher.

Dia Van Gunten, who lives just outside New Orleans, didn’t have much luck.

She went to the Bay Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook group to help her friend find her 82-year-old mother a vaccine in Contra Costa County. She’s been working on it for three days and so far no vaccine.

“It shouldn’t be this hard, it shouldn’t be like the hunger games,” said Gunten.

Vaccine hunting doesn’t always bear fruit, Pitcher however is catching a lot of praise for what she is doing -- she’s helped 30 people so far.

“Spreading kindness right now is one of the most important things we can do,” said Pitcher.

She will continue doing it. The costume designer by trade says sewing masks and hunting for vaccines has become her new full time job.

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