Half a million more San Diegans became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, including teachers. But now some must wait their turn because of a separate appointment system dedicated to TK-12 employees.
Some teachers told NBC 7 they are getting denied vaccines after securing appointments sooner at county-run superstations.
For Kate Dickinson, a Chemistry teacher at Canyon Crest Academy, she said becoming eligible for the vaccine couldn’t come at a better time. She’s returning to in-person instruction for the first time in nearly a year Monday.
“It was just all the more reassuring that I can show up Monday and feel like I’m doing what I need to do for my colleagues with health concerns, for my students who feel unsure or unsafe,” explained Dickinson. She said she waited 45 minutes for a vaccine at the county’s San Marcos superstation just to be turned away.
“To say that this person is eligible, and you have the doses sitting there and you have the time slot, I don’t see why you’d deny that right,” said Dickinson.
According to the county; 20 percent of vaccines have been set aside for TK-12 staff, who are required to schedule appointments through VEBAvaccinates.com.
The requirement is listed on the county’s website, but Dickinson said it was not made clear in the information she received about vaccinations. Dickinson told NBC 7 she understood that she was eligible to schedule using VEBAvaccinates.com, but not required to.
"It never said it was a requirement to use that system. I also know that many of my colleagues have been able to get appointments at other sites and they have received their shots,” said Dickinson.
So how did Dickinson and her colleagues get these appointments in the first place? A county representative told NBC 7 that the appointment system, MyTurn, is state-run, which means TK-12 educators in other California counties may be scheduling appointments through the site. It’s an option Dickinson said she wishes was available to her.
“If I needed assistance making an appointment and was having trouble at another site, I would absolutely take the County Office of Eds. offer up and say, 'Thank you for making sure I got the vaccine'. However, I was able to do it on my own terms, on my own time, and I shouldn’t be penalized or have to wait because of some other system that’s in place, especially considering I’m going back [to the classroom] this week,” Dickinson explained.
Dickinson says she's since been scheduled for an appointment through VEBAvaccinates in the next two weeks.
A county spokesperson told NBC 7; school districts in communities hardest hit by the pandemic have priority under the VEBAvaccinates appointment system. Educators may also receive a vaccine through their provider.
The County’s website reads; “Staff in Transition Kindergarten (TK) through 12th Grade ONLY: The San Diego County Office of Education will be coordinating vaccinations for all staff in TK-12 including private, charter, and public schools. Please contact your school for information on how to get a vaccination. Please visit VEBAvaccinates.com for more information and to sign up for an information mailing list. Do not schedule an appointment through the County website, these appointments will not be honored at the vaccination site.”