Joni and Sidney Felsen showed up at a Ralphs on Third Street in Los Angeles Monday with appointments to get vaccinated. The day before, Ralphs even sent the couple--65 and 96 years old, respectively--reminders to show up. But when they got to the pharmacy department, an employee said they wouldn't get vaccinated because the chain was still vaccinating just health care workers, according to LA County guidelines.
"I’m just deeply disappointed in Ralphs and the whole system, disappointed in the county, not being able to get it together," Joni Felsen told the I-Team.
Last week, Ralphs opened up COVID-19 vaccine appointments to people over 65, after Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would start to vaccinate seniors.
But LA County was still telling vaccination sites to focus only on healthcare workers. So after accepting appointments, Ralphs cancelled them without notifying all customers.
"For us to get to come into a supermarket and expose ourselves in terms of COVID and not be notified that we’re not getting the shot, is really frustrating," said Joni Felsen right after being turned away at Ralphs.
Hours later, LA County reversed course. The chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Hilda Solis, Monday night signed an executive order telling vaccination sites to start giving the shots this week to seniors.
"Older adults have been unfairly impacted by the virus....our residents will soon be able to return to a life where they can visit their grandchildren," Solis said Tuesday.
But the director of LA County's public health department warned Tuesday that there may not be enough vaccine available to inoculate all healthcare workers and all seniors who want the shots now.
"It will require patience, because we haven't received all the doses we need to vaccinate priority groups," said Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
Ralphs spokesman John Votava told the I-Team Tuesday that, going forward, the chain will be providing the vaccine to people 65 and over "where doing so is approved," such as in LA County.
But when the I-Team checked Ralphs appointment website Tuesday, there was no mention of booking a COVID-19 vaccine--unlike last week.
Votava said "appointments are based on vaccine availability."
Ralphs also told NBCLA it is "working to make the situation right" with people who had their appointments cancelled, and will be reaching out to them and "inviting them to an upcoming vaccine clinic."
Joni Felsen says, so far, she's received no communication from Ralphs about a vaccine clinic, or about re-booking her and her husband's appointments.