August 2, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Riverside County: How to get 1st and 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

Several weeks into the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in California, many questions remain for people attempting to schedule their inoculations.

If you live or work in Riverside County, here’s what you need to know about the process of getting a vaccine from the county public health agency. (The county also works with community partners — such as pharmacies and urgent care facilities — which run their own systems.)

The people currently eligible to be vaccinated are healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and people 65 and older who live or work in Riverside County. If you aren’t yet eligible, sign up for notifications from the state at myturn.ca.gov.

This is the most up-to-date information available for Riverside County. Los Angeles County information is here; Orange County information here.

Secure a first appointment

First things first, bookmark Riverside County’s vaccination website: rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine.

The county is operating several large distribution sites, including at the Indio and Perris fairgrounds, Corona High School and the Lake Elsinore stadium. In a purple table on the website, you can see which locations might have appointments available. Click the link in the right-hand column to start the process. If it says, “Full,” you’ll have to try again another day.

Through Feb. 8, the county is setting aside almost all new appointments for people 85 and older. If you fall into that group, click the blue button that says, “85 years and above click here to check for availability.”

You can also call 2-1-1 from within the county to get help, in English or Spanish, scheduling an appointment.

Jose Arballo Jr., senior public information specialist with the county public health agency, said the county typically publishes public communications announcing appointment availability.

New appointments are usually opened around noon. On a recent day, more than 10,000 appointments came online at noon and were fully booked in 34 minutes, Arballo said.

So be sure to refresh your browser on rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine as close as possible to noon to have the best chance at securing an appointment.

Get your first shot

When the time comes for your first appointment, go to the specified distribution site. Some are walk-in; some are drive-through, in which you remain in your car for the entire process.

Arballo said people shouldn’t arrive more than 30 minutes early to avoid overcrowding. Some sites are outdoors, so check the weather and dress accordingly. Officials have moved operations indoors for inclement weather when possible. Wear a mask (or two).

When you arrive and line up, screeners will make sure you have an appointment and double check the time. Then you’ll be directed to a check-in area. You must show identification to confirm your age and residency and answer a few questions. (If you work in the county or in an industry that is currently eligible, you’ll need to provide proof of that as well.)

Once you are checked in, you’ll wait for a technician to be available to give you your shot. Research has shown that smiling when you receive the shot can reduce pain and stress. Try it.

After your shot, you’ll get a vaccination card indicating you got your first dose. It will also note the type of vaccine you received and the date when you should receive your second dose (21 days after the first for the Pfizer vaccine; 28 days after for Moderna).

You’ll also be directed to a waiting area for a 15-minute observation period. That’s just in case of very rare allergic reactions. Once your 15 minutes has ended, you’ll confirm to an observer that you’re OK and be on your way.

The whole process can take from 30 minutes to two hours, Arballo said, depending on how many people are in line.

Get an appointment for your second dose

Arballo said that you will be notified when it’s time for your second appointment. Instructions will be provided for making the appointment.

You need to receive the same vaccine — Pfizer for Pfizer, Moderna for Moderna — but you don’t have to receive it at the same distribution location, Arballo said.

Other situations

If you make your first appointment through an organization other than the county public health agency, you should confirm information about second doses with them.

Arballo emphasized that the supply of vaccine that the county receives can vary — sometimes it gets more or less than it expects — and that dictates how many appointments can be opened. “It’s a process,” he said.