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(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Vaccine Watch

California makes it easier to guarantee volunteers COVID-19 vaccines — just not in Santa Cruz County yet

California is making it easier for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering at COVID-19 vaccine clinics, but for now Santa Cruz County is not following suit.

While some volunteers in Santa Cruz County have been able to get inoculated at certain clinics, it hasn’t been a guarantee by any means. “We’re not bringing extra vaccine in to inoculate the volunteers,” said county spokesperson Jason Hoppin. “We’re just giving them the vaccine from no-shows.”

That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen eventually, he said: “We have not been given any information on that [policy] from the state so we’re not implementing that [yet].”

Vaccine Watch

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The state launched a volunteer page on its My Turn vaccination scheduling system last week to streamline the process for medical providers and the general public to volunteer.

Counties across the state have already made the volunteering option available, but the move by the state is expected to make the process more accessible to people who would otherwise not be eligible for the vaccine.

“A volunteer that completes a shift of four hours or more is eligible to receive a vaccination as along as a clinic administrator provides that approval,” Dave Smith of California Volunteers said last week during a vaccine advisory committee meeting.

Those who are interested in volunteering anywhere in the state can do so by going to Medical volunteers will be required to verify their medical license in order to register as a vaccinator, vaccine prep supporter or patient observer. Non medical-volunteers can sign up to assist with registration, administration support or as a site greeter.

It remains unclear if volunteers are guaranteed a dose immediately after a shift. The state Public Health Department and California Volunteers did not immediately respond to questions for clarification. Access to a same-day shot is currently contingent on supply levels at county-run or city-run sites.

Since the start of the vaccine rollout, California has worked to expand vaccine site capacity in preparation for an increase in vaccine supply. Recently, officials announced that the state was prepared to administer 3 million doses each week — a capacity that continues to exceed supply. Officials continue to hope that vaccine allocation continues to increase.