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Vaccine Hacks: Tips From Seniors That Could Help You Successfully Land An Appointment

SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) – The dash to get vaccinated is highlighting all kinds of delays in California's distribution system.

People are dealing with wait times lasting several hours or getting no call back at all. But some are finding ways to cut through cracks in the system and get in line.

"Misinformation, no information, wrong information," said Geoff Wilson.

CBS13 spoke to people who, despite that, found success. Lola Ferguson, 68, talked to us just hours after getting her first dose.

"I tell you - I hit the sweet spot," she said.

The sweet spot of a phone call to Kaiser Permanente at the right time.

"I called at midnight and it was a 10-hour wait! So I set my alarm to get up at 7," Ferguson said.

It was the 7 a.m. call that finally went through. Ferguson advises others, "I would just randomly call once a day, different times," she said.

Don Swartzell, 77, said he got an appointment by emailing his primary care doctor at Kaiser directly, not by calling the mainline. They never replied to his email but he got a call back the next day. He sent the email via

"I'm not waiting six hours for the second coming. I ain't doing that," Swartzell said. "So I just emailed my doctor and said, 'Hey I want a shot.'"

Wilson helped his 90-year-old dad get an appointment. He said initially, Kaiser told him they would call when something was available. But the call never came.

"I'm sitting there thinking, 'Well when's their time?' Dad's 90, Mom's 85, both with heart conditions," Wilson said.

But then he got lucky. Wilson recently took his dad to Kaiser Vacaville for an appointment regarding cataract surgery, unrelated to the vaccine. That's when he heard office staff talking about leftover doses they could give to anyone on site. So Wilson jumped in.

"I think I need to listen in on this conversation. And they said, 'Well how old is he?' And I said, 'He's 90,' and they said, 'You might be able to get a vaccine for him today.' I was like, 'Today - great!' " Wilson said.

Wilson said these doses came from surplus and people who didn't show up for appointments. Other seniors are choosing the old fashioned way.

"I let my daughter do it for me," said Jean Hagan.

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Ellen Fawl was able to schedule an appointment for her mom at North Bay Fairfield without any hassle.

"They did confirm when we got there that one, you have an appointment, and two, who is primary care doctor," Fawl said.

CBS13 asked two major health systems if they would provide the vaccine to qualified groups even if they didn't have a primary doctor there. Kaiser said yes, they would administer the vaccine regardless of health plan membership. Sutter Health said they were focused on vaccinating patients.

Those who have made it through, have this to say: "Don't give up! You are the advocate for yourself, the advocate for your children, the advocate for your parents," Wilson said.

Placer County health officials have set up a system where you can be notified via text message when large numbers of new appointments are available. Just text "PLACERVACCINE" to 898211 to receive alerts.

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