Angelenos Head For Bakersfield, Where COVID-19 Vaccinations Are Plentiful For Walk-Ins Over 16

People under 50 seeking a COVID-19 vaccine are getting out of Los Angeles and heading for Bakersfield.

Video Transcript

GARY LEE: I'm really happy to have my first round done.

ALEX BISTON: It's a race against time, and Gary Lee didn't waste any after he heard the mass vaccination website at Cal State Bakersfield was giving the shot to anyone who wants it.

GARY LEE: What I was hearing was true, that Kern had opened it up.

ALEX BISTON: It's about an eight-hour-long round trip from his home in Irvine. But for a life-saving vaccine that he would otherwise be ineligible for in Orange County, he says it was worth every minute.

GARY LEE: I live with older family, so it's just really important for me to get it taken care of. So I saw the opportunity, and I'm like, hell, yeah.

ALEX BISTON: Lee is one of many southern Californians crossing county lines to get the coveted vaccine since hundreds of thousands are still considered ineligible for the shot. But here, officials say they'll vaccinate anyone 16 years or older, regardless of where you live. 36-year-old Nick Haley drove from Los Feliz.

NICK HALEY: Pretty much everybody I saw today was an Angeleno. They asked us in that room in there, and it was about 40 people. And they were like, is anybody from Bakersfield? And everybody was like, no.

ALEX BISTON: David Womack is the senior vice-president of Kaiser Permanente in Kern County. He says the site has the capacity to vaccinate 1,400 people a day but hasn't been meeting that threshold.

DAVID WOMACK: The vaccination rates in Kern County are a little bit lower than they are in the rest of the state. We welcome those walk-ins as long as we have capacity and as long as we have vaccine.

ALEX BISTON: Only Kern County residents can make an appointment here. So anybody coming from outside the county is considered a walk-in. And while thousands of vaccinations have been available since the site opened in late March, officials here believe that spots will fill up quickly in the coming days.

[? JOHN STRAUSS: ?] Once this thing opens up, who knows what's gonna happen, if it's going to hit the roof?

ALEX BISTON: That's why [? John ?] [? Strauss ?] drove up the 5 freeway from Burbank to get his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. And like hundreds who visit the site from out of town, he's leaving with a new outlook on the future.

[? JOHN STRAUSS: ?] I just want to get on with it, get on with my life.

ALEX BISTON: Alex Biston, "CBS2 News."