Vaccine chasers hunt, wait and hope in California

68-year-old Jose Luis Espinoza was desperate to get his COVID 19 Vaccine. He qualifies in California for a shot – but it hasn’t been easy.

JOSE LUIS ESPINOZA: "The appointments are so hard to get it. I've been trying for over three weeks, and I just got one at St. Jude, but it's going to be until the end of the month."

For Espinoza, that’s too long to wait.

JOSE LUIS ESPINOZA: "My dad is 98 and he lives in Santa Ana at his house. We take care of him... We love to hug, and we haven't been able to kiss him, hug him the way we like."

So last week he went to a clinic in Santa Fe Springs, California and waited in line with other so-called vaccine chasers. Those hoping to get lucky with a leftover shot at the end of the day when people cancel their appointments or don't show up.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: "I'm here in hopes that there's any that might be leftover."

48-year-old Cynthia Perez was one of the first to arrive that day at the Santa Fe Springs clinic.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: "I have a compromised condition, but yet I don't, I'm not 65 yet. And then, I also have a kid at home who has asthma. So I'm trying to kind of maybe get ahead of the curve a bit and try and stay healthy myself."

Chasers have been criticized for getting the vaccine when it's not their turn, but Perez said that’s not her intention.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: “..I'm not trying to jump the line per se. I'm just trying to take advantage of any vaccines or any doses that might be thrown away."

Will Baker agrees. He is assisting with vaccinations at the Santa Fe Springs clinic and stresses the importance of not wasting any precious doses and welcomes people to wait. And on this day, there was one extra dose.

WILL BAKER: "we had one shot left over. I went over the guidelines and I looked for anyone in the line that was 1A. And we did have one person in the line that met the 1A criteria and we were able to get him a vaccine today."

And that lucky vaccine chaser was Espinoza. J

OSE LUIS ESPINOZA (IN SPANISH):"Fortunately, it was the last dose they gave, it was the last, and I was the lucky one."

Baker went outside to break the bad news to the rest of the group.

WILL BAKER: "Sorry there is no more vaccine for today, thank you for your patience, sorry about that everyone."

Perez picked up her bag and headed home, disappointed but not deterred.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: "I mean, you can't be upset. It's, it's never guaranteed. So, you know, we'll see."

Video Transcript

- 68-year-old Jose Luis Espinoza was on the hunt to get his COVID 19 vaccine. He qualifies in California for a shot, but it hasn't been easy.

JOSE LUIS ESPINOZA: The appointments are so hard to get. I've been trying for over three weeks, and I just got one at St. Jude, but it's going to be until the end of the month.

- For Espinoza that's too long to wait, so last week he went to a clinic in Santa Fe Springs, California, and waited in line with other so-called vaccine chasers, those hoping to get lucky with a leftover shot at the end of the day when people cancel their appointments or don't show up.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: I'm here in hopes that there's any that might be left over.

- 48-year-old Cynthia Perez was one of the first to arrive that day at the Santa Fe Springs clinic.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: I have a compromised condition but yet I don't-- I'm not 65 yet. And then I also have a kid at home who has asthma, so I'm trying to kind of maybe get ahead of the curve a bit and try and stay healthy myself.

- Chasers have been criticized for getting the vaccine when it's not their turn, but Perez says that's not her intention.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: So I'm not trying to jump the line per se. I'm just trying to take advantage of any vaccines or any doses that might be thrown away.

WILL BAKER: Thank you.

- Will Baker agrees. He is assisting with vaccinations at the Santa Fe Springs clinic and stresses the importance of not wasting any precious doses, and welcomes people to wait. And on this day, there was one extra dose.

WILL BAKER: We had one shot left over. I went over the guidelines, and I looked for anyone in the line that was 1A, and we did have one person in the line that met the 1A criteria, and we were able to get him a vaccine today.

- And that lucky vaccine chaser was Espinoza.

TRANSLATOR: Fortunately, it was the last dose they gave out. It was the last and I was the lucky one.

JOSE LUIS ESPINOZA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

- Baker went outside to break the bad news to the rest of the group.

WILL BAKER: I'm sorry, there's no other-- there's no more vaccine for today. Thank you for your patience.

- Thank you.

WILL BAKER: Sorry about that. Sorry about that, everyone.

- Perez picked up her bag and headed home disappointed but not deterred.

CYNTHIA PEREZ: I mean you can't be upset. It's-- it's never guaranteed, so you know, we'll see.