Every time family therapist Marlene Josephs gets a break in between patients, she races to the computer to try and snag an appointment for her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But so far she's having no luck.
"I've spent hours and hours every day trying, I can't even tell you how many," Josephs told the NBC4 I-Team.
Earlier this week, the I-Team asked the director of LA County's Department of Public Health (DPH) to address the concerns of people like Marlene Josephs, and many others who got their first shot at one of 300 "community sites" in the county, but can't secure an appointment for the important second "booster" dose.
"I'm really sorry to hear that some people are still struggling at the community sites to get that second appointment, said DPH Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
Part of the reason appears to be unresolved technical bugs in LA County's vaccination appointment website www.vaccinatelacounty.com.
Since Josephs got her first shot at the Kedren Community Health Center in mid-January, she's logged onto the website daily to get an appointment for her second shot. At one point, the site said Kedren was "full" for the next two weeks, then minutes later it showed availability every day for the next two weeks. When Josephs filled out the online form to get one of those available appointments, she got a message saying there was nothing available.
"The system for getting appointments is beyond confusing," said Josephs.
The I-Team found it was the same story with other large sites, like Dodger Stadium. One minute, the appointment website said Dodger Stadium had "no availability for the next 7 days." Minutes later, several appointments slots for the very next day appeared.
The I-Team on Wednesday asked the DPH what it is doing to fix technical problems with its appointment website. The agency has not yet answered that question.
Ferrer says the county has told its 300 vaccination sites to reserve doses for people to get their second shots on time.
"There's no reason for people to be anxious about it, because we are guaranteeing that when we get supply [of vaccines] it first goes to those second doses, " Ferrer said.
LA County has made some positive progress to help people secure second dose appointments if they got the first shot at one of the five county mega sites.
Denise Wilcox of Burbank got her first shot at the Magic Mountain mega site January 21st but couldn't an appointment for the second dose. The I-Team questioned DPH Director Ferrer about that too for a report that aired last week.
"We will pre-register everyone who goes through our site for their second appointment… by email," Ferrer said at the time.
This week, Denise Wilcox got an email with a confirmed appointment for her second dose at Magic Mountain.
"I think a lot of it had to do with the KNBC report. Because [LA County] totally revamped their whole reservation system," Wilcox told the I-Team.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is now following the county's lead, for appointments at city-run sites like Dodger Stadium.
"You don't have to do anything. Your second dose appointment will be scheduled automatically, you'll receive a text message or an email a few days beforehand," Garcetti said at a Wednesday media briefing.
For people who went to some of the hundreds of smaller sites in LA County for their first dose, and haven't yet received an email with a second dose appointment, DPH Director Ferrer said not to worry.
Dr. Ferrer said it's fine to get that second dose of vaccine up to six weeks after the first dose, in accordance with current CDC guidelines.