"The state will email you--" is that true?
February 17, 2021 6:25 PM   Subscribe

My mom got her first vaccine shot at RiteAid today. The lady refused to schedule a second shot, saying "the state will email you," presumably referring to the California MyTurn website. I STRONGLY SUSPECT this is a lie. Does this actually happen? Has anyone actually been contacted by the website?

I assume most people aren't eligible and wouldn't get contacted anyway, but given how everything everywhere is super broken (hence my mom getting a shot at RiteAid instead of her HMO, which has made it clear they can't handle it and have very little vaccine and can't even handle the 75 and up crowd), I strongly suspect this is a lie and my mom shouldn't trust that MyTurn is actually going to contact anyone.

Mom is 70, so at this point "eligible" but not all THAT eligible. She got Moderna, so she's got at least 28 days to figure it out. I've told her to try to find a shot any other way anyway (and I went on the website pretending to be her and they said no appointments are available), but I just wondered if literally anyone has actually been contacted by My Turn and if the website actually works at all other than taking signups .
posted by jenfullmoon to Computers & Internet (23 answers total)
I don’t know much about the My Turn system, but I seriously doubt that the health care professional who administered this vaccine dose lied to your mother.
posted by stinkfoot at 6:42 PM on February 17 [25 favorites]

I was emailed (in WA State, using another system) to schedule my first appointment (just before the first day I was eligible), and then again for my second.
posted by QuakerMel at 6:44 PM on February 17

I'm in Arizona, where they are sending email to schedule the second dose.
My mom got her first dose at a local pharmacy. A few weeks later, we received an email invitation for the second dose.
posted by jennstra at 6:45 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]

I don't think your mom getting a shot at a pharmacy is necessarily an indication that things are "super broken" in the sense that you should suspect a worker of lying to your mother. New York state has its shit together on vaccine distribution, and pharmacies are one of their main distribution points right now. It is true that vaccine is in very limited supply overall, so that is probably why your HMO has very little of it.

Also, first shots and second shots are separate allocations in many places, so if you are trying to secure a first shot for her as her second shot, you may actually be messing the system up.
posted by unannihilated at 6:52 PM on February 17 [19 favorites]

Here in Massachusetts, my mom got an email to schedule her first and then after she had the shot, got another email to schedule her second. This was through the hospital her PCP is associated with.
My dad, on the other hand, let me make him an appt at CVS and they let me schedule both at the same time but everyone I’ve told has been really surprised by that. Just anecdotal stuff to suggest that what is happening with your mom be normal.
posted by jdl at 6:56 PM on February 17

I don't blame you for your skepticism, as a fellow Californian, and the website only became accessible so recently I'm not sure I know anybody who's had both via that portal yet.

At least around here (Los Angeles) I think the only two options are a small selection of pharmacies and mass vax sites (I had thought Dodger Stadium was our only option, but I live by CSUN and they have a large parking lot set up for distribution). Even healthcare workers, as I understand it, are not getting it at work unless they happen to work at a distribution point. There may very well be a few Kaisers and other HMOs doing it, but I wouldn't assume the system is specifically broken because they don't all have their own distributions.

I share all your concerns, but there's not much we can do but watch the date and see what happens. By the time your mom's month is close to up we'll probably know more about how well second rounds are working.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:21 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]

given how everything everywhere is super broken (hence my mom getting a shot at RiteAid instead of her HMO

Drug stores have become part of the acceptable vaccination pathway in nearly every state; this is not a sign that things are any more broken than just regular "Trump had no plan at all" broken. In Vermont, the hospitals were doing vaccinations right up until the state rolled out their statewide portal and then they stopped, cancelled the appointments of everyone with an existing appointment, and those people had to re-sign up either via the state or one of two drug stores.

Likewise I think there is zero chance your mom was lied to, but there may also be a chance that things don't work as planned, so if you are asking because you're concerned about whether your mom has the accurate version of events, you may want to call her Rite Aid and ask specifically. The impression that I've got (following vax stuff in several non-CA states fairly closely for family reasons) is that they try to pair the shots up, no one should have to scramble for a second shot. Alternately if there is an actual number to call (we have one in VT maybe you do?) for people who can't access the website, I'd try that.

She should have a card which says when she got the first one and which batch it was from and she'll bring it when she gets her second. Usually, as unannihilated says, the allocations are different between first and second.
posted by jessamyn at 7:22 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]

My dad, who's 70 plus and suffers from COPD, has received notification that he's eligible. However, no actual scheduling help is at all. So it's more like, duh.
posted by kschang at 7:23 PM on February 17

Another slightly different story from Washington state, where I suspect county public health departments are handling things in different ways. My wife signed me up for notifications on a website. Some time later, she got a text message saying that I could make an appointment for the next day. When I showed up at the county fairground vaccination site, they already had my name (but didn't ask for any ID-- slightly worrying) and I got the shot, a wallet card with the dates and my vaccine type (Pfizer), and they made me wait 20 minutes to make sure there was no reaction.

Then before I left someone pushed a laptop cart over to my socially distanced chair and made an appointment for my second shot. They also made sure to write the upcoming date on my wallet card. My wife still hasn't been contacted. We theorize that is because I am over 50 and she (barely) is not. Also, no one asked us ever about insurance plans or money. I got the shot and it was never mentioned. I presume the state or Federal government is paying for it.

Obviously where you are in California is completely different. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. Keep on doing it! Vaccinations are happening really fast now everywhere. Do all you can and things will open up just like they did for us with little warning.
posted by seasparrow at 8:06 PM on February 17

Response by poster: I apologize for saying that the RiteAid lady lied. I'm sure she absolutely meant it and was truthful that the state website would work to schedule her without my mom having to do anything or call anybody. Likewise, I am very happy that y'all in other states are having your notifications work. (The "broken" commentary comes from the various emails I have seen from our HMO about how they aren't getting nearly enough vaccine and can't even get to everyone over 75.)

However, I just have a very strong feeling, screaming-in-my-head feeling that the MyTurn website in California may not exactly be working to automatically set her up for an appointment in a month without her having to do anything, like the lady claimed it would, and just wanted to know if anyone knows of it working for them in California yet. I very strongly suspect it's not going to work easy-peasy like that because it's 2021 and nothing is easy, but if anyone can verify that that IS working for them, I'd feel less anxiety.

Thank you, I will now bow out of speaking in this thread.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:46 PM on February 17

I'm in Northern California where things are getting shifted from original sites (large medical centers) to mostly super large vaccination centers just in the past week or so. The California MyTurn doesn't work here but that will change at some point. In other words, not total bungling but lots of confusion as people try to figure out how to get all of this working better.

Around here people seem to be scheduling about two weeks out and there is a central on-line resource linked to the county COVID vaccine page where it is fairly easy to see who has openings. There is a place in the sign up process to indicate if it is a first or second shot and which supplier you need. If it were me, I would wait two weeks to see if MyTurn comes through and if you haven't heard anything then try to schedule something yourself.

Good news is (1) even one shot will give her some protection and (2) if there is a little bit of a delay in getting the second one it won't change to efficacy of the shot once she gets it.

Good luck!
posted by metahawk at 8:51 PM on February 17

Actually, I think I would wait a few days to give the drug store a chance to enter the information and then go to the MYTurn.ca.gov website and see if you can schedule a second shot there yourself. Might not work, but totally worth the few minutes to give it a try.
posted by metahawk at 8:56 PM on February 17

The problem is with your "who has gotten an email question" is that minimal people who got their first shot after the site launched are in the window to get a second appointment. In fact, if you got your shot the very first day the site was announced, you'd be getting your second shot tomorrow with the Pfizer vaccine, and not until next Thursday for the Moderna.

Also, are you turn MyTurn is good for your county? As of now, it's just Los Angeles, San Diego, and "Near San Francisco". Assuming your profile is correct and you aren't using the metaphorical definition of your location, you might want to contact the Santa Clara County Public Health department. I checked on your behalf, and they want 2nd dose people to call in at: (408) 970-2000

Or, if Santa Clara isn't it, find the public health department of the correct county.

I signed my father up for his first shot 15 mins after 65+ people could get vaccinated in Los Angeles. He didn't get an email for a second appointment, but he got his shot over a week before MyTurn was rolled out. When I reached out to LA Public Health about not getting a second appointment email, they said to just show up on the 21st day at the mass vax site (Magic Mountain in his case) with the CDC form everyone gets with their first shot. He did that last Monday, and was in an out in 30 mins.
posted by sideshow at 9:20 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]

I STRONGLY SUSPECT this is a lie. Does this actually happen? Has anyone actually been contacted by the website?

My mom got vaccinated using MyTurn in southern california. She got it at the Chula Vista superstation. This was on 1/23 with Moderna.

After her first shot, we realized we did not have a second appointment so we started calling around but nobody was able to give us any advice other than to maybe try and schedule a second by ourselves? Another piece of advice was just to show up at the same place even without an appointment.

As it happens my cousin took an older friend of hers a week earlier and she did just that. They just showed up, said she was there for her 2nd dose and they did indeed give it to her without an appointment.

As for my mom, two days ago, yes, we got an email asking if she would like to schedule for 2/23 and an appointment was made. So at least in our case, yes, we did get an email three weeks afterwards.

Those are the two outcomes I know about. I would wait for an email and if it doesn't arrive, then just show up.
posted by vacapinta at 11:55 PM on February 17 [9 favorites]

All of this is anecdata, but I read the FB comments on an LA Times post about the vaccine system. The general tone was distrustful, but several people said “I got the email in time, just later than I expected” and nobody said “I needed a second shot but didn’t get an email”
posted by itesser at 7:16 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

My husband got an email after getting vaccinated at a superstation in San Diego. My parents (and many of their friends) got emails after getting vaccinated at a superstation in Los Angeles County (also Magic Mountain, hi sideshow!). To clarify that last part -- I know some of their friends got emails, and I don't know one way or the other about the rest (I do NOT know if anyone DIDN'T get an email).

All of those people did actually get their second shots this Sunday or earlier.

My parents and their friends all got different information during their first vaccinations about whether they should wait for emails or make an appointment 3-4 weeks out themselves.

What my mom did was make an appointment for her and my dad just in case, but they got emails anyway.

Of course, as other people have noted, this is all from counties that are hooked into MyTurn, though I'm not sure about the timing of their first shots vs when the site went live.
posted by natabat at 8:06 AM on February 18

Two things. One, a relative at a mass vaccination site in Santa Clara County (CA) two weeks ago was scheduled for their second dose while at their first. Second, vaccinations typically wait six months for the followup dose for maximum immune response. The current vaccines were done on a compressed timeline to minimize the time needed to complete efficiacy studies and vaccination campaigns. I'm not a doctor or immunologist but it's not at all clear at this point that there is a benefit in getting the followup right "on time". You might very well be trading off more protection in the medium term for less protection in the long term. Over the next several months even the vaccinated are still going to have to mask, distance, and otherwise behave as if they are not vaccinated, so I would weigh whether it's that important.
posted by wnissen at 10:54 AM on February 18

This is a little LA-centric but I think touches on all the state procedures, and is as comprehensive a guide as I have seen so far: How To Get The Second Dose Of Vaccine -- And Everything You Need To Know About It
posted by Lyn Never at 12:11 PM on February 18

I see that the CDC is urging within 6 weeks, because that's what they have data for.
posted by wnissen at 12:30 PM on February 18

Best answer: “A spokesperson for Rite Aid told KCRA 3 News on Wednesday that people who have received the first dose of the vaccine but didn’t have a second appointment scheduled will be contacted by the pharmacy and an appointment will be scheduled for them.”
posted by sageleaf at 1:12 PM on February 18

Response by poster: Thanks for the CA responses! Glad to hear that at least some people were contacted.

My friend watched the KCRA report about RiteAid and told me about it at lunch, I have forwarded this on to my mother. Hopefully they contact her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:44 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]

I know several people (LA, OC, SD counties) who have gotten that email. I also know of nobody who has been left out in the cold - the system seems to be working pretty well at scooping everybody up and getting them their second shot.
posted by bluesky78987 at 5:03 PM on February 19

Response by poster: My mom did finally hear back from RiteAid and has an appointment for the 17th. Whew. (Though I still have suspicions of MyTurn, which still says I'm not eligible.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:03 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]

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