BY ANNETTE TRINGHAM
Special to Record Gazette
Riverside County released the COVID-19 vaccination to residents 65 and older on January 13 as part of their Phase 1B- Tier 1 plan.
There are a handful of large-scale vaccination clinics sprinkled throughout the county, as well as individual providers like Albertsons and Ralphs pharmacies and Apple Urgent Care where seniors can vie for an appointment.
The process to enroll for a reservation is a bit lengthy, but thorough and fairly easy to navigate.
Actually acquiring an appointment proves to be a little more difficult. Reservations are available on the Riverside County website at www.ruhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine. The usual name, phone, email, date of birth, etc. are requested. Although the vaccination is paid for through the government, the administration cost is not; therefore health insurance information and a photo of your health insurance card will be requested.
One of the locations for mass vaccination is the San Gorgonio Middle school, located in Beaumont. Several Sun Lakers were among the first who waited on line the first two days of the rollout. Among them were Richard and Carla Farley, Lynn and Bonnie Derrick and my husband, Blaine.
Having a 2:36 appointment, Blaine and I left at 2:00 to ensure we did not miss the timeslot. When we arrived at the school, we were surprised, but happy to see that there was security at the parking lot entrance, verifying that only those with a reservation were coming in. The officer directed us to park and then pointed to a line of people and told us that is where we would need to start, adding that it was about a two hour wait…outside…in the sun.
The line started in the parking lot, and then turned down a 30 yard walkway, eventually snaking around the perimeter of the basketball court and ultimately ending at the entrance to the gymnasium where the shots were being administered.
All appointments were verified by staff with registration confirmation, picture ID and insurance card. There were a few who tried unsuccessfully to gain entrance without having an appointment, but they were turned away or escorted by security.
Once inside, shots were administered quickly and recipients were then directed to a separate area for observation to ensure there were no adverse side effects. “I was happy to see it was mandatory to remain for 15 minutes after the shot”, said Carla Farley. “Richard has allergies and we were a little apprehensive about a reaction. The staff watched him for the 15 minutes and had someone double check on his well-being.”
From start to finish, our process on the first day was about one hour and 45 minutes. According to Bonnie Derreck, who had an appointment on day two, it was streamlined to just over an hour, including the observation period. “It was seamless. I was very impressed”, she said.
The vaccine dispensed at that location was the Moderna. As far as side effects, the Farley’s reported that they both had sore arms the day after the shot, but no other real problems. The same was true for Lynn Derreck. Bonnie experienced some chills and lethargy in addition, but stated they were very mild. Blaine had a sore arm for several days and general tiredness for a day or two.
“I understand almost 500 shots were given at that location the day we were there”, said Farley. By virtue of the fact that the website now shows all appointments are filled within hours of being made available for the week, seniors seem eager to get a shot. Hopefully there will be enough doses to go around and to cover those who will need a second dose next month. “I feel the vaccination is a good thing”, said Derreck. “Be patient - get your vaccination, but still wear a mask and social distance.”
Visit the county website for information and to make an appointment at any of the clinics, pharmacies or Apple Urgent Care. You may also call your doctor, however, as of this writing neither Beaver Medical, nor Kaiser have received any vaccine for distribution.