SLO County rolls out new vaccine lottery system



San Luis Obispo County Public Health is moving away from a first-come, first-serve COVID-19 vaccination appointment system to a new lottery-based system—a change that officials say will "ease stress and ensure more equity" in the vaccination process.

Instead of announcing the availability of new appointment slots each Thursday, which are getting gobbled up within a few hours, SLO County is instead asking all vaccine-eligible residents to register once on its website at

Then each Thursday, starting March 4, officials will randomly select which people in the larger pool will get scheduled for their first vaccine shot.

NEW SYSTEM SLO County is trying out a new lottery system to vaccinate residents for COVID-19. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • NEW SYSTEM SLO County is trying out a new lottery system to vaccinate residents for COVID-19.

"People can register online, one time. We will pull names electronically to select people in the number of appointments we have available for the following week," SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said at a Board of Supervisors meeting on March 2.

Second vaccine shots will be scheduled separately under a different process, Borenstein said. As of press time, SLO County was vaccinating health care workers, all residents 65 and older, and some teachers and education workers.

On March 3, SLO County Public Health tweeted that 2,000 locals had already signed up through the new system. Residents may also call to register at (805) 543-2444 or (805) 781-4280.

Borestein emphasized that only residents who are currently eligible to get vaccinated should sign up right now. The vaccine form asks for personal information, occupation, and one's preference on appointment location, day, and time. The county operates three clinics, at the Paso Robles fairgrounds, Cuesta College, and Arroyo Grande High School.

According to Borenstein, about 50,000 SLO County residents had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot as of March 2. As more people get vaccinated, infection rates are declining. SLO County reported 27 new cases on March 3—the same day it moved to the state's less-restrictive red tier for reopening the economy.

But it also reported two new COVID-19 deaths—raising the pandemic death toll to 238 locally.

"As always, I feel the necessity to remind the public that these are real people," Borenstein said. "This is not the time yet to let down our guard and take off our masks. We are contending with more and more variants that are coming into the state of California." Δ


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