Opinion: Incompetence = Death; Don’t Tell Us Booking a Vaccine Appointment is Easy When It’s Anything But Easy

Seniors waiting in line to get vaccinated, accompanied by their younger family members (photo by Henry Scott)

Imagine a restaurant advertising online a special discount for a three-course meal, and then customers show up at its door to see a sign saying: “We don’t serve food.”

That is essentially what the L.A. County Department of Public Health is doing by promoting the COVID-19 vaccination website.

Despite what the county says, it is all but impossible to schedule a vaccination anywhere using the website that it and the Public Health Department are promoting, or by calling the telephone number that it offers. I know, because I have tried.

I am over 65 and got my first vaccination last Thursday (Jan. 21.) I had spent several hours the day before trying to book an appointment online. Many times I filled out online forms, only to click for an appointment and be told none are available.

Someone suggested I get in a car and drive to Dodger Stadium and wait in line. But I don’t have a car, so driving to Dodger Stadium wasn’t feasible for me (nor is it for those disabled West Hollywood residents who must use wheelchairs).

So then I started making calls directly to clinics and hospitals and pharmacies. Someone at Kedren Community Clinic, a hospital I had never heard of, actually answered my call and suggested I just show up there the next morning and see what happened.

On Jan. 21, I ordered a Lyft ride and got to Kedren, which is on Avalon Avenue in South LA, at 8:30 a.m. There were several dozen seniors standing in group in the cold (some had been there since 7 a.m.). One of the Kedren security guards told me to join that group, but said there was no assurance I would get a vaccine.

Nearby there were more than 100 others waiting for a possible vaccination, some of whom had somehow been able to make appointments and some of whom were just hoping to get lucky. I was told some had been there since the day before, sleeping in their cars overnight, and that the line then had been two to three times longer.

Seniors waiting in line for COVID vaccine, accompanied by younger family members (photo by Henry Scott)

The seniors and their family members around me were angry. One man said he hoped that each member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Gov. Gavin Newsom would have to stand in a line like the one we were in to get their vaccinations. Then they would know what their constituents were going through. There was laughter, and then frowns when one woman said she was sure they would all be getting their vaccinations at home or at a private doctor’s office.

I waited about three hours until one of the Kedren staffers, upset that there were older people in wheelchairs and with walkers who were shivering in the cold, pushed to get the seniors into the vaccination tent. I got my first shot.

Now I must get my second Moderna vaccine dose in four weeks, on Feb. 17. But the folks at Kedren told me they couldn’t schedule it. And I couldn’t find a place to book the appointment online.

Yesterday, I dialed (833) 540-0473 and spent two and a half hours on hold on the county’s so-called vaccine “appointment assistance line” trying to schedule my Feb. 17 vaccination, only to be told by the employee who answered that they have no openings and don’t know when they will. The only solution she said is to show up somewhere and wait. (I’d suggest the Health Department stop calling that phone number an “assistance line.”)

There are many people and institutions at all levels of government — federal, state, and county — to blame for this disastrous vaccination rollout. But I blame the County of Los Angeles for sending people to a website or asking them to call a certain phone number to register for a vaccination when it simply isn’t possible to do so. If the county can’t schedule vaccines, it should say so.

I would like to see an official statement from the Board of Supervisors calling out the failure of this vaccination system and asking for an investigation. And it would be interesting to see this on the agenda of the West Hollywood City Council. It really more is important than acknowledging the Republic of Artsakh or condemning the Yulin, China, dog meat market. This issue affects local people.

Silence = Death button

As I wrote in a column recently on CityWatchLA, this situation brings to my mind the slogan “Silence = Death,” which was inspired by Keith Haring’s iconic AIDS poster in the 1980s. In Los Angeles County, Incompetence = Death. More than 15,000 Angelenos have died of COVID-19-related illnesses so far. How many more deaths will it take for Los Angeles County to figure out how to really communicate with the citizens its elected and appointed officials are supposed to serve?

5 2 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

9 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matthew F
Matthew F
13 days ago

The struggle to get the vaccine 💉 is no joke!

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago

Hank, you are so correct. Incompetence on so many levels relating to the cataclysmic disaster of our lifetime is staggering. The number of breakdowns show an exponential absence of reason and logic. It appeared that early on, California was on its way to minimize or at least contain the pandemic but the albeit well meaning but overly long and complicated press conferences given by Gov. Newstom lacked clarity, direction, order and focus on the personal and community responsibility of our dilemma, ethics and a large shot of discipline. The best to get on top of the tragedy IMHO was New… Read more »

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
1 month ago

There are not enough vaccinations for everyone who qualifies in Phase 1a LA County, adding 65 and older to that phase only adds to the pressure being placed on the system. The State and County are not being clear ELIGIBILITY is different than AVAILABILITY. Because you are eligible for a vaccine does NOT mean that a vaccine appointment is available for you. it is my understanding appointments will only be made if doses are available due to the unreliability of weekly vaccine dose distribution from federal government. Biden has announced states will now get accurate distribution counts 3 weeks ahead… Read more »

Henry Scott
Henry Scott
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh Kurpies

My issue is less about the availability (although it is a big concern). It is about Los Angeles County claiming that one can sign up for vaccination online when that is pretty much impossible with VaccinateCA.com. I have spent many hours scouring options, and filling out sometimes lengthy online forms, only to click “submit” and be told there are no appointments available. The state now is taking the vaccines away from Ralphs. But previously the VaccinateCA site sent you to Ralph’s location to book a vaccination. But then you found Ralph’s didn’t include Covid as an option (flu and hepatitis… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago
Reply to  Henry Scott

Presumably the state keeps track of the numbers even before you labor through and finally click submit to find nothing available.

Perhaps the website could list the days appointments are open/ filled and where options are available before you start your fruitless journey. Thereby someone could be more prepared to shoot for a day of possibility rather than wasting time. WE need some critical thinkers to arrange such procedure. Where are they?

Patty
Patty
1 month ago

Why don’t they open City Hall, that useless parking structure and Plummer’s Park as vaccine sites.

Ruth Williams
Ruth Williams
1 month ago

Hank is 100% correct. By the time you get the lists and sign on-line it’s all the places are filled up. I try every day but “nada”… I don’t understand why our Doctors at Cedars still have not been given the vaccine for their patients who are eligible. How do the grocery stores like Ralphs with a pharmacy get it before the doctor? At 82 I’m certainly eligible. And what are the repercussions when Hank has received his first shot and can’t get the second one? I know I’m not the only senior in this “fix” as I receive a… Read more »

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
1 month ago

Hank is totally right. These politicians do absolutely nothing. Except hide behind all their achievements whatever that might be.

If you go to the website where you make an appointment, there are none available.

You can thank the political hacks running Los Angeles County. That collection of totally inept supervisors. And that incompetent person running the Health Department.

California is the worst state when it comes to the covid virus vaccination. We’re number 50.

Gwen
Gwen
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Grace

Hank, it’s so good to read a article by you. I’ve like you have been trying to use that website to no avail. Many of us seniors are. It feels like lip service. Make a site look good then we’ve done are job….. Doesn’t matter that it’s of no use to anyone. Hopefully my husband and myself will find away. I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other like you..

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

5
2
votes
Article Rating
9
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x