San Jose

Frustrated Vaccine Seekers Struggle to Find Appointments

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Millions of California residents above 50-years-old will become eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, leaving those already eligible wondering if they'll be able to get an appointment anytime soon.

In the Bay Area, several of those soon-to-be eligible live in the South Bay and show up daily to Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, which is currently serving as a drop-in vaccination center. However, the supply of vaccines does not meet the high demand in the area.

John Waiters qualified for a COVID-19 shot but had a hard time making an appointment through Santa Clara County, until he was finally able to score one on May 26.

With people over the age of 50 on the verge of becoming eligible, Waiters decided to join hundreds of people and line up early outside Mexican Heritage Plaza to get an available shot.

"Any day or any time I could get ahead of that May 26," he said. "I figure I'm ahead."

The Mexican Heritage Plaza director, Jessica Paz-Cedillos, says there will be a lot more people lining up as soon as eligibility expands, but he points out the agency already turns away about 300 people a day.

"Our response to the county and the state is ‘we need more vaccine’, right? I think it’s important that we open it up, but we also need the supplies to be able to vaccinate folks," Paz-Cedillos said.

The Santa Clara County public health department acknowledges about 400,000 more people will be eligible starting Thursday, and those who have already been waiting will not have priority.

Officials say residents should check county websites for available vaccines, but recognize that's not a very encouraging option. Appointments are expected to become harder and harder to obtain as vaccination eligibility expands.

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