SLO County’s vaccine lottery will still prioritize at-risk residents

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Despite recently opening its COVID-19 vaccine lottery to any resident over age 16, San Luis Obispo County says it will continue to prioritize at-risk populations for appointments at its three clinics.

“Yes, SLO County will continue to make sure that community members who are [at the] highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness are next in line for appointments before newly-eligible residents,” said Michelle Shoresman, a spokesperson at the SLO County Public Health Department. “For example, an 80-year-old who signs up next week will be in line for an appointment ahead of a healthy 30-year-old who may have signed up this week but is still waiting for an appointment. It could take those who have a lower risk of serious outcomes anywhere from one to three weeks to get a vaccine appointment through our registry.”
SHOTS SLO County is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to any resident age 16 or older. - FILE GRAPHIC BY ALEX ZUNIGA
  • FILE GRAPHIC BY ALEX ZUNIGA
  • SHOTS SLO County is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to any resident age 16 or older.

SLO County Public Health expanded its COVID-19 vaccine program to roughly 54,000 more people on April 7 when it announced that residents 16 or older were eligible. While officials say they try to prioritize their lottery based on age and risk, in some cases they’re unsuccessful if a registrant chooses narrow preferences for the appointment date and time.

Starting on April 8, the county will select its weekly vaccine recipients and then ask them to self-schedule an appointment time and date—rather than using their stated preferences to automatically schedule it.



As of April 2, Public Health had surpassed 100,000 total shots administered—with 38,977 people fully vaccinated and 24,647 partially vaccinated. Countywide, including at pharmacies and other health providers, vaccine shots surpassed 150,000 on April 7.

Shoresman said that in addition to targeting at-risk groups, it’s also taking additional steps to reach out to populations adversely impacted by COVID-19, like the local Latino community.

“Initially, this has been through our weekly agriculture worker vaccine clinics in North and South County,” she said. “However, in the coming weeks, we will also be reaching out to other disadvantaged and adversely impacted groups around the county via ‘pop up’ and mobile [vaccine] clinics.”

Despite the recent surge in vaccine-eligible community members, Public Health does not have plans to pivot to the state’s MyTurn website for vaccine sign-ups.

“We continue to work with our current system, have made numerous improvements to that system, and will continue to monitor and make improvements as we are able,” Shoresman said. “Overall ... we get overwhelming positive feedback on the county vaccination process.” ∆

—Peter Johnson

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