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Second COVID-19 boosters available at some vaccine clinics in Sonoma County, but online scheduling ‘coming soon’

Second COVID-19 boosters were made available this week in Sonoma County. Well, sort of.

On Wednesday, local health officials announced that people over 50 and immunocompromised individuals are now eligible for second boosters. But some residents have reported difficulty getting the shot.

One problem is the state’s online scheduling platform, MyTurn.ca.gov, has not been updated to include a second-booster option. At the top of the website’s landing page, a banner note about second boosters reads, “Scheduling coming soon.”

Officials said “soon” will likely be Wednesday.

One local clinic that relies on MyTurn.ca.gov for scheduling turned away about 20 patients Thursday because the site is their only means of scheduling appointments.

A representative of the California Department of Public Health said Friday that “scheduling options are coming soon, but in the meantime Californians are encouraged to check with their provider or use MyTurn to find a MyTurn clinic.”

That likely means finding a clinic that offers walk-in vaccinations, like the vaccine clinic at the Roseland Community Center, 779 Sebastopol Road in southwest Santa Rosa. That clinic is operated by Fox Home Health.

Dr. Urmila Shende, the county’s vaccination chief, said the state notified the county Friday morning that MyTurn will be updated on April 6 to enable scheduling of second booster doses.

“In the meantime CDPH (the state health department) is encouraging COVID-19 vaccine providers to accept these patients as walk-ins based on the updated guidance,” Shende said.

In addition to the Roseland clinic, a clinic at the Rohnert Park Community Center, 5401 Snyder Lane, which is operated by LHI, a subsidiary of OptumServe is also available for walk-ins, she said.

Petaluma Health Center Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Toledo said they didn’t get state authorization to begin moving forward with second booster shots until this week.

“Nurses started to give second doses today [at the clinic],” Toledo said.

Some have reported having trouble getting the second booster through Kaiser Permanente, the county’s largest primary medical care provider. Kaiser’s website indicates that some scheduling for second boosters began Friday, but online scheduling won’t start until next week.

“If you are eligible for a 2nd booster, you will be able to schedule an appointment beginning on April 1 through the Appointment and Advice Call Center. Online scheduling will be available on April 7,” according to the website. The call center’s number is 1-866-454-8855.

However, Susan Beving of Santa Rosa said she called Kaiser’s appointment and advice line and was told they were only scheduling second boosters for those with compromised immune systems. ”

“Scheduling for others who are eligible — I’m 77 — probably will start next week, the appointments rep said,” Beving wrote in an email.

Karl Sonkin, a Kaiser spokesman, said Kaiser members should continue checking KP.org for availability and appointments in their area for the most up-to-date information.

Waiting for MyTurn.ca.gov to update its second booster offerings may remind some of the technical glitches that plagued the online system more than a year ago, when the state launched it as a one-stop shop for vaccine scheduling.

But Beving said it’s not that.

“That (the launch) was extreme confusion,” she wrote. “I got my first two shots at the clinic at the Rohnert Park Community Center after my friends who told me about it were disqualified because of their age in that scheduling fiasco. At the time, Kaiser said it was unable to obtain vaccine.”

She said she got her first booster at Kaiser, “as Adele music played in the background.”

West County Health Centers is currently providing boosters to its qualified patients in a regular medical visit.

The is not currently using the MyTurn website for scheduling. WCHC enters COVID-19 vaccinations directly into patients’ electronic medical records, which automatically notifies the state’s immunization registry.

The West County health centers used MyTurn as a scheduling and tracking platform when they were doing mass community clinics in 2021.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pressreno.

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