The MyTurn website is now accepting people ages 50 and up for vaccine appointments, but a new Telegram channel is blasting out available Bay Area vaccination appointments almost non-stop.
I’m 50, 50 years old. So with the expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility being awarded to me tomorrow, April 1, you better believe I’ve been working the websites trying to find an available April 1 appointment — and having no success. But two game-changing developments hit the fan Wednesday, as KGO reports that people 50 and older can now register on MyTurn, the official California vaccine appointment signup platform, while KPIX reports on an app that finds real-time Bay Area vaccine appointments.
I tried both of these, the notoriously buggy MyTurn, and the app, which is actually just a channel on the already existing app Telegram. But that channel is a constantly gushing firehose that spits out several new available Bay Area vaccine appointments every hour.
First I tried MyTurn, with full eligibility for an appointment in effect. Unsurprisingly, I got nothin’. “No appointments available, we can’t schedule your COVID-19 vaccination yet,” the site tells me. I’m sure this varies by zip code, you may have far better luck. But MyTurn is not integrated with all pharmacies and mass-vaccination sites, and as such, is the platform where a large number of Californians are constantly refreshing in a fight for a limited spectrum of appointments.
We have exactly the opposite problem on “the app,” or more specifically, the Bay Area Vaccine Notification channel on Telegram. This channel gets very regular updates and posts, which do appear to be automated (though through different automation sources), and will show you a barrage of available appointments. It’s quantity, not quality, and you will not be eligible for like 95% of the appointments posted on there. They appear to be real appointments, but most are specific to certain Bay Area regions or healthcare providers.
But if you’re willing to put in significant time and effort to get an appointment, then this channel is an excellent route (though, Jesus, turn off the Notifications. They can be relentless). According to KPIX, the channel “scans public and private healthcare providers including Stanford, MyTurn, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, and CVS, searching for open slots. The app then pushes results to a chat group on Telegram called ‘Bay Area Vaccine Notifications.’”
(The author of the code for the channel has a set of instructions for how to join the Bay Area Vaccine Notifications channel that explains the process for both iOS and Android.)
If you’re eligible for the vaccine now, or effective April 1, you have kind of a moral obligation to schedule an appointment prior to April 15. That's when every California adult becomes eligible, and because of likely very high pent-up demand, it’s easy to imagine that online systems will crash and vaccination sites will be overwhelmed. So get your vaccine appointment now to make things easier when the whole state becomes eligible in mid-April, either by sifting through an endless parade of Bay Area Vaccine Notification channel posts, or relentlessly refreshing on the MyTurn portal.