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California Officials Cancel Vaccine Clinic For Elderly After Media And Hollywood Workers Try To Cut Line
Hundreds of people line up for their turn at receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Kedren Health on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A coronavirus vaccine clinic for the elderly was canceled after hundreds of media and Hollywood workers who were ineligible to receive the vaccine attempted to cut the line by signing up for appointments.

The Washington Examiner reported that officials in Pasadena, California, canceled the clinic after some 900 media and Hollywood workers took appointment times for which they weren’t yet eligible. This left just 600 empty appointment slots for those who were actually eligible to receive the vaccine. The clinic was designated for people over 65 and essential workers who live or work in the city.

Pasadena city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian told the Los Angeles Times that many of the 900 who unfairly signed up for a vaccine appointment were from production companies, soap opera sets, streaming TV services, and news outlets.

“Hundreds signed up within the first hour,” Derderian said. “It was like rapid fire.”

The Times reported:

The Pasadena Public Health Department last week sent an email to healthcare workers, senior citizens, child-care workers, teachers and food workers who had expressed interest in getting the vaccine, telling them they could book appointments at a clinic at Pasadena City College.

The email told workers they would be required to present proof that they worked in an eligible industry and lived or worked in Pasadena. The email also included a registration link to California’s vaccination appointment system, CalVax, and provided slots for five days, including Thursday.

The Times reported that one of its journalists received a link to sign up for an appointment slot. This reporter called the city to inquire about the link, which prompted city officials to look at the registration system and discover the majority of those who signed up for vaccine appointments didn’t meet the criteria to receive one.

The email sent by the health department included a warning in red letters not to forward or share the links, which clearly failed to deter recipients.

The website to sign up also failed to deter ineligible workers from signing up, since it can’t limit registration to those who live or work in a particular zip code. The sign-up form also included a drop-down menu that asked registrants to note the industry in which they worked, which included a choice for “Service – entertainment, performance,” which led some to believe they were eligible to receive the vaccine.

A simple warning message in red letters warned users: “Vaccine supply is limited. Before registering, please check to see if you are eligible to sign up.”

Derderian told the Times that Pasadena’s health department tried to contact those who signed up with addresses listed outside the city to remind them to bring proof — such as a pay stub or letter from their employer — that they work within the city. City officials, however, could not call 900 people in just a few days to receive verification. Instead, Pasadena will reschedule the clinic.

“We would have hundreds of people showing up who would not have qualified, and they would have been turned away,” Derderian told the outlet. “I’m sure the situation would have escalated in many cases.”

“We do check for ID. We will turn you away if you don’t meet the current tier, if you don’t live in town or work in town. Our health officer will not risk her credentials or the health department’s licensing or the city’s reputation. We are very strict in adhering to the guidelines,” she added.

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