As COVID cases skyrocket with the Delta variant, it's easier than ever to get a vaccine

·6 min read
RIVERSIDE, CA - FEBRUARY 1, 2021: Robert Nelson,81, of Riverside holds his wife Norma's hand as they walk to the observation lounge area after he received the Moderna vaccination in the parking lot of the Riverside Convention Center on February 1, 2021 in Riverside, California. Norma,83, received her vaccination a couple days earlier. Currently, this site is capable of giving 500 vaccinations a day in one of the regions hardest hit by the pandemic. Only residents 65 and older and educators are eligible for the vaccination here.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Robert Nelson, 81, holds the hand of his wife, Norma, as they walk to the observation lounge area after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the Riverside Convention Center on Feb. 1. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

You were preparing to have your roaring 2021 hot vaxx summer, carefree and maskless, but news of the contagious Delta variant remained on the horizon.

In May, the Delta variant comprised less than 3% of the coronavirus samples sequenced in the United States. By June, it was more than 20%. Los Angeles County is recording more than 10,000 coronavirus cases a week — a pace not seen since March — and officials are now requiring masks in public indoor settings again.

It's confusing. How worried do you need to be about the Delta variant? It depends on whether you're vaccinated or not. 99.8% of COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County have been among unvaccinated people. Out of fully vaccinated people, 0.06% have subsequently tested positive; 0.004% were later hospitalized for COVID-19; and 0.0004% have died.

Breakthrough infections have occurred in fully vaccinated people, but they are rare. And of the ones that do occur, most are mild cases that do not require hospitalization. Experts don't think fully vaccinated people are at the same risk for long COVID-19 symptoms.

Early on in the pandemic, getting a COVID-19 shot could involve frustrating websites and long waits. That's no longer the case. Around the country, pharmacies, grocery stores and clinics have same-day appointments and walk-in availability at thousands of locations.

The bottom line: The vaccines are working. And they're free and available just about everywhere in America. It's easier than ever to get one. Here's how.

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From anywhere in the U.S.

There is now a website you can visit to find a vaccine anywhere in the United States. Visit vaccines.gov/search and enter your ZIP code and the distance you're willing to travel. Select which provider you'd like to visit — it'll likely be a local retail pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens or the one in your regular grocery store — and click through to make an appointment or get information about walk-in availability, which is now available at many locations.

You can also call (800) 232-0233 for assistance in English or Spanish.

Free child care may be available during your appointment. Find more information on providers and availability here.

You may also be able to get a free ride to your appointment. Check your county for services it might provide.

Spanish speakers can also use WhatsApp to get information about appointments, free rides and child care.

Los Angeles County

People anywhere in California can use the state's MyTurn website to find appointments and walk-in information, or they can call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255 ([833] 4CA-4ALL).

Another option: Visit vaccinatelacounty.com and click "how to get vaccinated." The site also has information on getting vaccines for youths aged 12-17, free rides to appointments, and information for how to get vaccines administered to people who can't leave their homes.

Need a little extra incentive? Get entered to win tickets to Staples Center along with a life-saving vaccine at some locations. Certain locations are also giving away free tickets to Six Flags. Want doughnuts, cash or marijuana instead? That just might be on offer near you.

Orange County

Othena.com is Orange County’s online website to make appointments for its county-run sites, and it’s available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Check the sites' hours in advance, because that changes by day, but appointments can easily be made last minute and they also accommodate walk-ins with no appointments.

If you need transportation, call the O.C. COVID-19 hotline at (714) 834-2000 to schedule an appointment with AgeWell or Abrazar.

Those with disabilities who need accommodations can also make a request through the hotline or while scheduling their appointment through Othena. Those who are homebound are encouraged to check with their primary care provider first, but if you can’t be accommodated through a traditional healthcare system, call the hotline for assistance.

Also, if you have a community of 50 people who need to be vaccinated, you can register to host your own mobile clinic.

Minors must be accompanied by parent or guardian and provide a picture ID and proof of age.

Ventura County

Ventura County residents can find appointments through the state's MyTurn website or by calling (833) 422-4255.

Ventura County's COVID-19 response site also lists county-run and mobile and pop-up clinics with walk-in availability.

Several providers offer free transportation for those in need. You can also request free homebound services by calling the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging at (805) 477-7300 or by emailing covidmobileclinic@ventura.org.

Minors can show parental consent either in person or virtually at the time of the appointment.

Riverside County

Riverside County residents can schedule their appointments through the state's MyTurn website or through the county to be vaccinated at county-run vaccination sites. You can also call its hotline at (951) 358-5000 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For residents who don't have regular access to transportation, the county has teamed up with United Lab Services in Corona to provide in-home vaccinations. Residents can request an in-home vaccination by calling (833) 422-4255 or through the MyTurn website.

Minors must have a consenting guardian present at the time of the vaccination. In Riverside County, consent forms are available in English and Spanish.

Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County residents can make their appointments through the state's MyTurn website. The county also has several vaccination sites that are accepting walk-ins, no appointment needed. To find a location near you, visit the county's website.

Local pharmacies and the Vandenberg Air Force Base are also providing COVID-19 vaccines with an appointment. Visit the county's website to schedule yours.

Minors are eligible to receive Pfizer vaccines but must have a guardian's consent. The consenting guardian does not have to be present at the appointment, but is strongly encouraged to be there. Santa Barbara County's consent form is available in English and Spanish.

San Diego County

San Diego County residents can make their COVID-19 vaccination appointments through the county's website. Local pharmacies are also providing vaccinations with an appointment. To schedule yours, visit the "other vaccination options" tab on the county's website.

Because of a decline in demand for the vaccine, the county has begun closing several of its locations. You can also visit Vaccines.gov to find a location nearest you.

Residents who need transportation or who are homebound can receive a free ride to their vaccination appointment through the Metro Transit System or county resources. To receive your free MTS ride, show the driver your vaccination appointment confirmation when boarding. To receive benefits through the county, you can dial 211 or visit its website.

No appointment is necessary for minors if the consenting guardian is with the teen at their vaccination. If no guardian can be present, an appointment must be made. A consent form must be completed either way. San Diego County's consent form is available in: English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Karen, Korean, Somali, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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